Part of The Story of Francisca Sepulveda
“Hi, I’m Francisca. I’m a student at Cedar Crest College. So, I have both a mom and a dad and I have two brothers. I am the middle child and only daughter. So, I come from a Puerto Rican family- we are very patriotic, not only of the United States, but also of the island. We celebrate Christmas and Three Kings Day.
So, in Puerto Rico, what they do is, from what my mother has told me, is that they take hay or grass and they leave it outside to feed the camels and when they wake up, there would be gifts for them where they left the grass. We never really did the grass part because she said- she didn’t really want dirt in the house. But we did do a day of rest, the day that we finally put away all of the Christmas decorations…when my mom would lead all the prayers when we were super Christian- not any longer. Where we would start getting ready for New Year’s- see, holidays starting from like Halloween up until Three Kings Day was fun. And then, I don’t really like New Year’s because from Three Kings Day to New Year’s was just all cleaning.
What we do is, and I hated it every, every year because my mom would just go crazy, she is very much the law of the house. She’s the police force, as she would say, the enforcer. We would have to clean absolutely everything, everything to the little, minute details. We would actually scrub the walls and the ceiling, getting rid of all the dust-everything. Mopping- all of it. And then before it hit midnight on New Year’s, my mom would go around the house with this incense and she would pray in Spanish. So, we would have to clean everything out to get rid of all the baggage, bad spirits, and negative energy from the year prior, so this new year starts off completely clean. But, it’s so stressful. I would be so tired. We had to stay awake because there’s other stuff! New Year’s is like a whole ordeal. So, she would go around the house with incense, go in every corner she would- she would go into the top room, the top floor first, start in one room, go around all the corners of that room, while she’s praying. Go to the next room, same thing, all four corners, until she goes to the second floor, the bottom floor, and she would do the same thing, still praying. Then, we would finally get down to where the TV is, where you saw the big ball drop.
Doesn’t end there because we have to write our New Year’s wishes, so like, the first half is thank you to God, the second half is what we would like, or what we would work for in the new year. And then as soon as it would hit midnight, we would burn that, we would burn the list that we made, and my dad would, this is just my dad’s thing, I don’t think this is really part of any ritual, my dad would smoke a cigar, that was the only time he would ever smoke was on New Year’s. But, like, I would be so tired by the time it was 2am, or like, 1:50am. I’m just asleep. I can just hear my mother screaming.
And we would have to cook at the same time. And I was the one cooking. She would trust me to make sure things didn’t burn, but when it came to like actually cooking cooking, she would be like ‘do that for me’, and then would come back a minute later and be like ‘you’re doing it wrong’ and then do it herself. And I’m like okay, but you know, that’s my mom.
We’ve never been out for New Year’s, because we need to be- so, I think it’s the idea that the people you’re with one New Year’s, you’ll stay with in the new year. Even my older brother, even though he has his own place and has a kid now, he still comes back to our place for New Year’s. Because he knows that’s a big deal for my mom”.