New Year’s is my absolute favorite holiday. I love to dance around all the different superstitions between families and cultures. I guess most of it has to do with the energy that predominates the last day of the year. It is the only day in which everyone is wishing for the same things as you are, even if they have different names for it.
When I was a child I used to spend New Year’s at the beach, always in the same house, always with the same people. Everyone was dressed in white, the most popular New Year’s tradition in Brazil. A wish for peace. My mom would cook a northeastern dish called Shimp Bobo, a manioc cream with lots of coconut milk and dendê palm oil and, of course, shrimp. Mom’s best friend, Silvia, used to make cod fish sided by potatoes, bell pepper, and black olives. Some of my parent’s friends liked to eat lentils on New Year’s for good fortune. Others kept pomegranate seeds inside their wallet for money.
I was in charge of the lime mousse, the easiest dessert you can assign to a child — blending together lime juice, heavy cream, and condensed milk. The trickiest part, though, was when Silvia’s son and I did our best to write the year in the mousse using lime zest. Most of the time, it didn’t turn out beautiful, but the taste was always good.
Then, we would go to the beach and watch the fireworks and hug each other after the countdown. The dads would come along with the children to the sea and watch us while we hopped over seven waves, another massive Brazilian superstition for the Réveillon, making one wish for each wave, the high point of the night. One of my wishes every year was to still be friends with my best friends.
Today, you see fewer and fewer people wearing white. My mother’s best friend spends New Year’s at the countryside. Silvia’s son now has his own son. I haven’t cooked lime mousse in over ten years. I haven’t talked to my friends from that time in a long while, either. People around me are always wishing for the same things now: losing weight, quit smoking, a new boyfriend, a good promotion.
I still spend New Year’s at the beach with my family, only a different one. But I still dress in white, and so do they. We have now a beautiful new tradition. We set little wooden sailboats, along with all the families around us, with a candle and a white rose in it. An offer to Iemanjá, the queen of the sea. Instead of the mousse, my job now is to write the letter we send along with the offer, initially addressed to Iemanjá but meant for nobody in particular. My intentions are always the same, anyway. I wish for my family to remain close, and for my friends to be happy. I wish for more love to deal with things that I hate. I wish for strength and fulfillment, and I swear to God that sometimes, a few days during the year, I am heard.
I still skip over the seven waves. Six of my wishes are small resolutions I most likely won’t even remember in six months. But my seventh resolution never fails, as I always wish for me to remember the traditions I once had, keep the traditions that still matter the most and never to stop looking for new ones. Then, we watch the fireworks while the flames of the candles float in the ocean.
Thais is a second-year Writing for Children and Young Adults student at the Creative Writing MFA program at The New School. She is a Brazilian New Yorker currently working on a Young Adult novel and still on the hunt for the best pizza in the city.
featured image via Today