What do a suitcase, sponge, a grape and gold underwear have in common? You guessed it! All things you must have handy on December 31st to ring in the New Year with luck. That is, of course, according to the ever-hopeful chapines (Guatemalans).
First, let's talk about the fireworks. Colorful displays of light shooting through the sky and sweet smoke lingering in the air might remind Americans of summer and barbecues on Independence Day. But to Guatemalans this smell is the smell of Navidad and Fin de Año.
Across the mountains, beaches and rainforests of Guatemala, colorful fireworks explode at midnight marking New Year’s Day and giving signal that it’s time for el abrazo - hugging everyone in your home, followed by knocking on the neighbors' doors so you can hug them too.
But let’s retrace our steps. Before midnight comes, most chapines find their favorite estreno (new outfit) to ring in the new year. But the most important part is what goes under the estreno. Choose your underwear wisely: for prosperity and abundance in the new year, wear dorado (GOLDEN UNDERWEAR); if it's love you're looking for, wear rojo (red). You can also test your luck and wear one on top of the other - you do you!
Looking for luck in the new year? CLEAN YOUR HOUSE! A physical representation of the clean slate we want for the new year.
And before the clock strikes midnight, make sure to have 12 GRAPES ready. Eat one grape as each of the 12 clock chimes rings at midnight, a tradition from our Spanish roots with church bell towers marking time in each of the pueblos... remember to chew and not choke!
And if it’s traveling you want to manifest in the new year.... time to reach for your SUITCASE. Midnight strikes, you eat the grapes, give the abrazos, toast the champagne while watching the fireworks... and then, yes, grab your suitcases and go for a walk (or run) around the block.
And so, friends, we can only hope the eternal optimism of the chapines is contagious. We hope lady luck is with you and all of us in the New Year. But remember, the most important thing is enjoying the moment and building memories with loved ones. ¡Feliz y Prospero Año Nuevo!