What is the minimum age for messing with the Unseen? 12? 18?
I don’t know how it is where you live (and by all means DO tell me!), but Costa Rica walks a beautifully thin line between state-sanctioned Catholicism and time-honored superstition, and never is this more evident than at the end of the year.
Costa Rican New Year traditions (read “superstitions”) are plentiful, colourful, and mostly a lot of fun, though if I catch the asshole who decided the house should be sprinkled with salt and swept from the inside out to ensure a prosperous New Year I’ll break the broom on their heads.
I hate sweeping.
But I did it, along with everything else: spraying the house with water in which you have put the rind of an orange (preferably peeled all in one piece, not that I’ll ever be able to do that), wearing yellow or red underwear (C did too!), having money in your pockets to ring in the new year, running around the block with a suitcase (OK, I gave it a pass this year, but I thought you’d like to hear about it). And as soon as it was officially January we picked a flower called Santa Lucía, and I stuck a sprig inside my wallet, to ensure money year-round.
So far so good, right? Nothing that will affect a kid in a negative manner, besides the sheer shock of seeing mama actually cleaning.
I hate cleaning.
Another popular belief over here is the “baños”, special mixes of salts, herbs, artificial colouring and whatnot (especially whatnot) designed for bringing in money, warding off evil, attracting love, you name it. You boil the stuff, let it cool, and pour it on yourself after the shower. Let dry without rinsing, get dressed, and get ready for the money, love or success to start flowing your way! I often buy these in the Central market and give them as presents to European friends, who find the packaging hilarious and probably use them in secret while wholeheartedly hoping they actually work. But hey: a dear Danish friend used a love-attracting incense she got here, and now she’s married to the man of her dreams and they have two gorgeous kids. Just sayin’.
On January 2nd, after comparing notes on New Year traditions kept and skipped, a colleague found me worthy and she shared with me a special New Year “baño” that a witchy neighbour of hers had made. I totally leapt with joy: this was the real stuff! None of that commercially packed whatnot! An actual, bona-fide baño made by someone’s neighbour, packed in a sandwich bag inside a supermarket bag!
Prosperity, come to mama!
So I boiled, I cooled, I showered, I poured.
Um, did I mention that I never shower alone?
I figured as long as it was not a love potion it could do no harm, and I painted C top to toe with the stuff. He seems mighty prosperous, if you ask me.
Now that he’s a seasoned hand at baños and other witchcraft, maybe I should also initiate him into animal sacrifice, right?
No effin’ way.
I hate cleaning.
Happy New Year to all!
(I wrote this last week, but am only posting now due to technical issues. The New Year wishes still stand!)