Gabriela J. Bachman Professor Lathrop Writing 1 19 October, 2009 New Years at Home As I described in essay one, New Years for my family is a very important event and we celebrate it with a number of activities based in superstition. According to Wikipedia (1) superstition is defined as “a credulous belief, not based on reason. The word is commonly applied to beliefs and practices surrounding luck, prophecy and spiritual beings, particularly the irrational belief that future events can be influenced”.
Despite the fact that Catholicism is the main religion in my country, all Peruvians believe in superstition. New Years Eve is when people confirm these superstitions by performing a variety of strange rituals such as burning a “Muneco de Ano Nuevo”, wearing yellow wrist bands, eating grapes at midnight, and placing lentils in our pockets, all these in order to push some luck and prosperity into our life. In the following paragraphs I will be making a deeper analysis on the meaning of these rituals and explaining why these rituals are still being carried by Peruvian families.
One of the most famous rituals and the first I described in essay one is building and burning our first “Muneco de Ano Nuevo. ” A “Muneco de Ano Nuevo” is an effigy of an important public person that had caused a big commotion during the year. Since in the past decades, politics has been a topic that has caused deception and discontent to Peruvians; this is the reason why effigies are mostly created to represent politicians as showed in this passage from essay one: “we made an effigy of Alberto Fujimori, who was the president at that time, and who didn’t have a good reputation. Since my family is very interested in politics, this ritual is a joy for them. The part of the ritual they enjoy the most is the burning of the effigy. This doesn’t mean we want to see the real person in flames, but we see it as type of anger therapy, as means of getting rid of all the frustrations we have accumulated towards the politician during the past year, hoping he will change and consequently, he will help to bring prosperity to our country. Besides releasing our anger, building and urning the “Muneco” is also intended to bring the family together into a last activity of the ending year, and first activity of the starting year, hoping family unity will be maintained throughout the entire year. Everyone has an important role in this activity. Although my siblings and I were in charge of building the “Muneco de Ano Nuevo,”, my whole family contributed in different aspects, as this sentence from essay one clearly illustrates it: “we used mom’s tan pantyhose to build the face, dad’s old blue jeans and black suit jacket to build the body, and my grandfather’s white tennis shoes to make the feet. A very important role in this ritual is the role of the males, which is to protect their children by doing the most dangerous activities involved in this ritual, as this passage from essay one shows “my dad and uncles closed the street, sat the “Muneco” in the middle of the street, bath it on gasoline, and lighted it on flames”. A superstition that is more focused with our history is wearing a yellow wristband in New Years Eve. As I said in essay one “my mom gave to each of us a yellow wrist band which we wore the entire night”. In Peru, yellow is the dominating color of New Year because is associated with hope, happiness, and optimism.
Likewise, yellow is the color of the good things in life such as the sun and gold. But this superstition has a deeper meaning of just being the color that identifies a celebration; in fact it has a connection with the past. For our ancestors, the sun was our God, and the gold was the treasure used to venerate him, but when Spain colonized Peru, they stole our gold and forced natives to change their religion. This is the main reason why we celebrate New Year in Yellow, as a way to award homage to our roots and ancestors, hoping our country will never have to go through this pain again.
Lastly, two family oriented superstitions that were also mentioned in essay one are eating grapes at midnight and placing lentils in our pockets. Eating grapes right when the clock strikes midnight is a common superstition practiced in Peru and Latin America in general. “… Right after, my mom and aunts ran to the kitchen to get the grapes (…) they handed us a bowl with twelve grapes each, which we ate under the table”. This example, as strange as it seems, involve us getting under the table to eat twelve grapes in only twelve seconds.
Per each grape that we eat, which represents a month of the year, we get to ask a wish. If all the grapes are sweet, it means it will be a good year; in contrast, if for example the fourth grape was sour or not as sweet as the other ones, it means that April is not going to be a good month. As for the reason why we have to get under the table to eat the grapes, I think this just help us on concentrating when asking for the wishes and to avoid choking since all the grapes must be eaten very fast. Another family oriented superstition I mentioned is to carry lentils in our pockets during New Years Eve.
In my country, people consider lentils as being a very nutritious food because it contains a big amount of proteins, minerals, and vitamins. As I mentioned in essay one “my mom handed us a handful of lentils that we put in our pockets for the entire night. ” The illustration of the mother handing out lentils to her kids symbolizes the love and care the mother has towards their kids, providing nourishment and making sure they have the vitamins they need to grow strong. By practicing this superstition, we believe food will be available on our table throughout the whole year.
Also, lentils resemble coins, thus we believe that carrying lentils in our pockets during New Years Eve will bring money to our home. (Transition) Although I have immigrated to a new country and culture, I will maintain these beliefs in my family, and I will pass it onto my children as my grandparents did to my parents, and my parents did to me. And whether or not all these superstitions are true, they have become part of the Peruvian history and folklore, making our New Year’s celebration unique. Work Cited (1) Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. “Superstition. ” Web. 19 Oct. 2009. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Superstition