Michael: With underwear, wheat, grapes, suitcases and setting a man on fire you may make 2014 your year. Well, that is if you trust Colombian traditions.
On my first New Year’s Eve in Colombia I stepped into the residential street just past midnight and narrowly missed being run over by a herd of stampeding people pulling suitcases. Soon some of those at the home where we were celebrating emerged with their bags and joined the crowd.
Graciela: Back then Michael and I were just dating. I remember him giving me the inquisitive look. Colombians believe as we pass into the new year to do something to signify what you wish to happen. For many people that is travel. If it is a specific place you want then put the name of that location on a piece of paper inside the luggage. And of course you need money to really enjoy the travel, therefore place some bills and coins in the bag as well. The run is around the block. If you can’t make it around the block then a large circle will work
Michael: Over the years I’ve noticed that around Christmas yellow underwear proliferates in stores. Finally I made a comment to my wife about it.
Graciela: I wear my yellow ropas interior (underwear) every New Year’s Eve. I believe that most people at the family gatherings have it on. How the tradition started I do not know, but it is suppose to bring the wearer luck in the New Year.
Michael: In the days leading up to finishing the year street vendors appear everywhere selling grapes. Everyone purchases them. At the stroke of midnight, after you give your significant other a kiss, you need to put down 12 grapes in the remaining minute . As many grapes as you stuff in your mouth during that time is how many months of luck you will have.
Graciela: To bring a supply of food for the new year vendors also sell twelve shafts of wheat together. Some say to place them on the dining table. But throughout my life my friends and I have always placed them in the kitchen.
Michael: While not totally correct with only four shafts of wheat, I could not resist purchasing the little guy above being sold by a street vendor for $5 USD. He covers all the luck with food, a bag of Colombian coffee and a miniature U.S. dollar.
My absolute favorite is they way they just burn away all the bad luck, mistakes and misfortunes of the old year to bring good luck for the new one. Año Viejo is a man made from straw stuffed into clothes. Sometimes they add firecrackers to the mix. Then at midnight the man is set on fire. My favorite is a Año Viejo featured in an earlier Photo of the Week.
Graciela: Whether or not you wear yellow underwear, run around the block with a suitcase, place wheat on the table or burn away the man of the old year we wish all our readers a very happy and prosperous new year.
Michael: And if you do run around the block with your suitcase put a paper inside for Bogotá.