Monday, December 30, 2013

Very Superstitious...

Jacinta Lluch [CC-BY-SA-2.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
...is what the Portuguese are; I've mentioned this before, you may remember. (And if you don't, here's a link.) But there are layers of superstition which manage to surprise me as they continue to unravel, like some stealthy Lusitanian onion, just when I thought I'd heard them all. (I'm a first-generation American of Portuguese descent and, after 43 years on this planet, I coulda sworn I'd learned all the 'guese stuff worth knowing.)

Specifically, I refer to Portuguese superstitions regarding New Year's Eve—though I don't remember my parents, aunts, uncles, or cousins doing anything more on said evening than getting stinking drunk (as is right and proper). But in recent years, my Mom's trotted out a few choice bits of magical thinking. For example, there's the twelve green grapes at midnight business: these must be consumed within the first minute of the new year, so as to ascertain good luck for each of the twelve coming months. Now, I coulda sworn I told her about this, having learned it from my former, Puerto Rican, in-laws, but Mom acts like it's old hat, now. Yeah, whatevs.

That one's pretty tame, and probably not unknown to most of y'all. But the onion unveiled a layer of the surreal the year my Mom gave me a small parcel on a December 30. Doubtingly, I took the thing from her and opened it. I blinked at what lay in the wrapping paper, then at my mother.
"Underwear?" I asked, uncomprehending.

"Red underwear," she replied with a broad, loony smile."Make sure you wear it New Year's Eve."

"Um...why?"

"It's for luck."

My left eyebrow quirked up of its own accord. "What kind of luck?"

Her crazed grin broadened, not unlike the grins of the folks in the video for Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun. "Who knows?" she said. And then she buggered off before I could demand further explanation.

This conversation haunted me, so much so that I had to track my sister, Star, down online and beg her to help me figure this shizz out. I don't remember all the particulars of that long online chat, but I can't forget when stunned realization compelled me to type out the words,

You mean...Mom wants me to get laid?!!??!?!?!?

Or similar.

I think Star and I settled on the fact that, as red symbolizes love, our mother simply wished me to enjoy some happiness in that department. I mean, it's not like she's ever been a romantic (like, not EVER), or thinks men are good for much of anything except making babies (sorry, folks, but it's not what I think, but what she thinks). Mom's, like, super Old Country Catholic and never encouraged us to date or anything even close to it. So the idea of my mother wanting me to get lucky, sort of blew me away. (Which isn't to say I didn't wear the hell out of those underpants that New Year's Eve, for all the good that did me.)

Anyway.

Y'all ever hear about anything even remotely like that? If not that, then what kooky New Year's Eve superstitions did you grow up with? (I'm particularly interested in something that'll help me get lucky, so feel free to share in the comments.) (Please, for the love of all that's holy; Goth Mom Lite's feeling that Urge To Merge!) (Ahem.)

Edited to add: Well, well, well...my Mom is vindicated




17 comments:

  1. This is the first time I'm hearing about a superstition like that. (Or the grapes one, for that matter.) Crazy!

    My mom personally likes eating black eyed peas on New Year's for luck. I have no idea where she picked up that superstition, but yeah. XD

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    1. That's a Southern thing I think, the consumption of black-eyed peas. I remember looking that up some years ago but I'm damned if I can remember the significance...though I think it's to do with prosperity...?

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  2. Nothing remotely interesting in my family. The only thing I remember is a glass of wine for the first dark-haired man to enter the house on New Year's Day. (There's not even a remote possibility of that happening in my condo this year. Perhaps I should wear my red bra and panties tomorow night?) I think there may have been a dime hidden in the cabbage at dinner, which was ham, cabbage, and potatoes. There may have been black-eyed peas, but since I can't abide them, never could, they're not a part of my memories.

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    1. That sounds like a rather Portuguese sorta dinner, especially if it was boiled (my family likes to boil the bloody hell out of everything)...

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  3. In our house it was sausage and sauerkraut, yuk! Not really yuk, I do enjoy a good brat once in awhile, but I'm making a roast! And tomorrow I'm going out to buy red panties and grapes! LOL Those sound so much classier! Maybe some red heels too! Oh sorry, just got lost in my own fantasy. Although I do believe in the adage that what you do and where you are is reflected throughout the year, so I've got the house cleaned and organized, including my office, and I'm going to be writing tomorrow and on the first, with a short break of course, to try on my new duds!
    I say try it all - can't hurt! Wishing you the best New Year ever!

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    1. Likewise! I've heard that about New Year's Day - whatever you find yourself doing that day, you'll do a lot of in the new year. Many years, I've spent hours in a bookstore on New Year's Day, which totally carried on into the new year.

      I'd like a pic of the red heels, please! ;-)

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  4. Happy New Year! I didn't really grow up w/ any superstitions or rituals. Other than watching Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin Eve and the ball drop at midnight. I was reading about the grape one and it was started in Spain in the late 1880s, by the grape growers in order to sell more fruit.

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    1. LOL, it's all about commerce! I shoulda known!!! :-D Happy new year to you too, JoJo!

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  5. Oh honey... I have missed you. :)

    As you know my husband is from Portugal (an hour outside of Lisbon) and I got nothing. One of the guys at work is 3rd generation, and he and I were talking about his Portuguese rooster for the kitchen.

    What now?

    Seems the Portuguese keep a gawd awful rooster looking thing in their kitchen for luck. My coworker was shocked we didn't have one (so shocked he offered to get me one for Christmas), and when I asked my husband he had no idea what the hell he was talking about. And then we went to his family's homes and saw roosters everywhere. Seriously.

    I texted my co-worker and told him that I may need him to get me a cock for my kitchen next time he's in New Bedford getting me sweet bread and Pastel de natas.

    Hope the red undies work for ya! :)

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    1. HEY, JULI!!!!! Long time no see!!! :-)

      I just did a quick tour of my parents' kitchen and it is disturbingly devoid of that rooster (and I totally know what that sucker looks like). I think the French also have a rooster theme in some country decorative styles. Anyway, though our kitchen's missing the rooster, it's rarely without pasteis de nata! :-) I've thought about trying to make some but, seriously, the crust alone is a hella lotta work! (And we all know how allergic I am to work!)

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  6. We've never had any superstitions for New Year's. I always feel like I should be doing something that reflects what I want from the new year. Not that I do it; I just feel like I should. Red underwear wouldn't have done me much good last night, as hubby is out of town for work, but maybe next year. ;)

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    1. Also, pretty sure a lot of people consume twelve grapes worth of wine, at least, on New Year's Eve...

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    2. LOL, I know whatcha mean! I did try to sprinkle stuff i love/want to do in the coming year, into my New Year's Day. Now, it's a matter of executing it, in a reasonable way, in 2014! :-)

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  7. OK so that means I have to stay away from red undies. I have much better luck staying away from those creatures...
    XO

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    1. That's a very fair point you make, Ms. Crowe! :-D Certainly, I've more peace of mind when I'm not pining for a fella...

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  8. I've heard whatever you do on New Year's Eve . . . or maybe it's New Year's Day is supposed to set the trend for what you will do the rest of the year. I heard that from my wacky short-term step-mom. That may have been the only conversation we had - she came and went before the new year was over, luckily. :)

    I don't know if this is related to the New Year but definitely speaks to the other issue you brought up (luck in the bedroom). My sister told me someone told her that if you want to fix things in your marriage, you should do a detailed cleaning of your bedroom (which presumably is intended to have the same effect as your mother's gift). I think the idea is it's supposed to remove the bad energy (and the distraction if your room is like mine and is the room where the laundry is folded).

    BTW, I bought your book today. Can't wait to read it.

    Tonja

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    1. Wow, that really is short term!

      Funny, what you (and your sis) say about cleaning the bedroom...I was struck with the urge, on the 30th and 31st, to do a bit of tidying up...and I am *never* struck by that urge. :-) Well, fingers crossed!

      And YAY, hope you like it!

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