Midnight meals & wishes under apples

Welcoming New Year with a 1am meal of `fritanga` (pork stew)

Welcoming the New Year with a 1.00AM meal of `fritanga` (pork stew)

Having spent eight of the past ten Christmases in a different continent than my immediate family, I was fairly unfazed about the prospect of spending Christmas solita in Bolivia.  I toyed with the idea of travelling, but after some drawn-out confusion about whether I had two days or two weeks of holiday, in the end I accepted an invitation to experience Christmas Paceño-style with a local family.

Traditions vary among families, but generally there is a late meal on Christmas Eve followed by gift-giving.  Households decorate with a tree and usually nativities too.  Christmas trees were adorned with cotton wool for snow, but outside it was hot and sunny in between frequent rainstorms.  The warmer climate added a strange feel to the festivities, not to mention the absence of working in retail for the first time in five years.  It certainly felt like a quieter, surreal Christmas on many levels.

We spun crackly old Latin American records – an eclectic mix of Bolivian Christmas carols, rousing Mexican folk songs and Puerto Rican pop.  Before midnight, we each wrote a wish on a scrap of paper and tucked it underneath a numbered apple, which I was instructed to take home and eat upon waking on Christmas morning.  When the clock chimed midnight on Christmas Eve, prayers were murmured, greetings exchanged and glasses clinked.  At around 12.30am, we finally sat down to eat (I was somewhat relieved I`d snacked beforehand).  The meal included turkey and stuffing, although this is not necessarily standard fare.

On Christmas Day, I enthusiastically sampled buñuelos (enormous deep-fried discs of dough) doused with honey and treacle-like cane sugar and accompanied by hot chocolate.  They were delicious and undoubtedly terrible for one`s cholestrol.  I immediately loved them.

Buñuelos - deep-fried doughy deliciousness

Buñuelos – deep-fried doughy deliciousness

The largest nativity set I have ever seen

The largest nativity set I have ever seen

Wishes under apples

Wishes under apples

Xmas Eve vinyl fun

Xmas Eve vinyl fun

More vinyl fun

More vinyl

Fun fact: At some point, Ricky Martin was a member of this rather greasy-looking band

Fun fact: Ricky Martin was once a member of this rather greasy-looking band

New Year`s Eve is customarily celebrated with a family meal (pork to signify prosperity and abundance) which also takes place after midnight.  Following the meal, many people head out to dance and drink the night away.  As it turns out, I found eating a 1am heavy meal of fritanga (spicy pork stew) with potatoes and corn more conducive to sleeping than hitting the clubs and was content to be in bed by 3am – pitifully early by Bolivian standards.

Bemused to see the local markets overflowing with bright red and yellow underwear for sale, I have since discovered that it is common to wear coloured underwear on December 31st – red for love and yellow for wealth.  Who knew…  I suppose I`ll have to wait another year to test that theory.

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!  Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2013!

We lit coloured candles on NYE and received small red bags for good luck

We lit coloured candles on NYE and received small red bags for good luck

The gift bags contained a US dollar and a cinnamon stick tied with metal coins.

The gift bags contained a US dollar and a cinnamon stick tied with metal coins.

9 thoughts on “Midnight meals & wishes under apples

    • Ha ha. The timing is key too. You`re supposed to have the underwear of your colour choice at the ready and then run to change into it at midnight, to enable your luck to change. 🙂

      • It’s so funny. I can just imagine everyone rushing to change their underwear at the stroke of midnight !! RED or YELLOW? RED or YELLOW? What the heck, why not just wear both!!

  1. Hello Joni: Nice to hear how your Christmas was celebrated. Mine also was a surprise seeing you on Skype. Love your updates!
    M.M. (Michael’s Mom)

  2. The bunuelos served with hot chocolate remind me a little of the churros con chocolate I enjoyed so much in Barcelona and Madrid this summer. Lucky you to be so included in all the traditions and festivities!

    • Yes, I was lucky indeed. Buñuelos remind me of churros too. (Churros are filled with dulce de leche here, just to add to the decadence). Thanks for following! Hope you had a good Xmas & Happy New Year to you!

  3. Happy New Year, JK! Chileans wear yellow underwear at New Year too (not Mauro though!). Love the look of your porky vinyl celebrations. I bet the buñuelos were delicious – but how was the Bolivian wine in your Christmas hamper? I will try to Skype you on Saturday. All my love from grey London.

    • Happy New Year Beckacita! Knew you`d appreciate the vinyl pics. Um, I gave the wine away. (Fear I have become a wine snob. Either that or I`ve been unlucky so far…). Skypeamos sábado! x

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