Saturday, 31 December 2011

Are you wearing red knickers?

What? Yes, hadn't you noticed all the selections of red underwear -male and female- that abounds at this time of year? They're sure to have some at the Chinese shops if you forgot to buy any for tonight. But why? One of the least evident traditions for New Year's Eve in Spain -one of many - requires that you wear red underwear to meet the New Year. It apparently gives you luck in finding a partner (it doesn't specify whether permanent or temporary). Until quite recently, if you wore yellow underwear, all you got was luck. We have been unable to find out where or when this tradition began, but if it has anything to do with cunning marketing, like the eating of the 12 grapes at midnight (see below), we wouldn't be at all surprised. But this is not the only 'good-luck traditional ritual' (i.e. superstitions), here are some more, including some pretty strange ones:>>>The 12 grapes at midnight. This is supposed to bring good luck and your wishes come true if you manage to eat them as the twelve chimes go off, and, of course, you enumerate each of your twelve wishes. The 'tradition' was started in the 1920s by a canny salesman who had a bumper crop of grapes that year. You can now buy little tins with exactly twelve peeled and seeded grapes in an outrageously sweet syrup.

Money. One way of making sure you get money throughout the year is to count money at exactly midnight - this, naturally, is to be carried out as you stuff your mouth with grapes in time to the chimes. There are those who go for putting money in shoes for the same purpose (be careful, do not switch the coins for grapes!).

Lentils. Eating a spoonful of lentils supposedly brings fortune and prosperity. Or giving a handful of them to a business friend, acquaintance or partner will no doubt make for good business in the coming year. There is no indication as to whether the lentils should be cooked or not - or about the consequences of eating too many of them

Luggage. Coming and going out of the house with luggage guarantees many journeys. Or putting luggage outside the front door after midnight. (Be sure it contains all the needs of whatever the person you are throwing out at the time).

Marriage. Sitting and standing at each of the twelve chimes ensures marriage. Do not sit on the grapes nor drop the wad of money you're counting.

Love. Take a photo of the one you love, tie it with a red ribbon and sleep on it under your pillow tonight. Your love will be returned.

Bad luck. On a piece of paper write down all the bad things that have happened to you this past year, and burn it. You are burning your past (though there may be those who don't think you can...).

Getting rid of the negative. Throw a glass of water out the front door, to be rid of tears and sadness.

Happiness. At each chime, repeat "I will be happy this year" Try not to spit out any grapes.

Stones. Many homes select three stones and place them prominently in the house. They represent health, love and money. Do not confuse them with grapes: dentistry is expensive.

Candles. Blue attract peace; yellow, abundance; red, passion (see?); green, health; white, clarity; and orange, intelligence, though we don't know whose.

New clothes. Wear new clothes on New Year's Day and you will be able to buy lots of new lothes the rest of the year. Applies principally to the fashion conscious.

Clean house. Your house must be clean, clean, clean tonight, even if you're not seeing in the New Year there. Clean everything, but pay special attention to the corners. Get rid of anything that is broken, useless or unpleasant. You must also place cinnamon and sweet smelling things in various places; the first attracts good luck and the second, love. (Says Prospero: No bleeding wonder!)

The table. Set out your best tablecloths and napkins, as well as the silver cutlery and glassware your grandmother left you. Don't forget the red candles; there should also be something golden. (Maybe the lentils should not be cooked as they are bound to mess up the decor... On the other hand, see the old year out and the new one in where you don't have to worry about washing up.)

Any more of these - oh, there are more alright - and we won't make it to any of the celebrations...

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