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Mexican customs for the New Year

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  •  By Tere Ruiz Rodarte and Karen McConnaughey

    New Year Customs 2009We thought we would bring you a few customs to share during the coming New Year’s celebration. We’ve also included a few quick starts on how to keep your resolutions going until 2011, along with a few funny ones to make you laugh out loud or at least give us a big grin.

    Have fun!

     Every country has their customs for bringing in the New Year. Here are a few from Mexico.

    1. Wear red underwear for love. Wear yellow underwear to assure happiness and good moments. It is better if the underwear is a gift from someone else.
    2. To have many new clothes during the year, wear your underwear backwards.
    3. Eat lentils for prosperity.
    4. Make a little package of lentils and carry it in your purse all year long so you will have money.
    5. Walk out of your house with suitcases in your hands to make trips during the year. You can also walk around the block.
    6. To have your wishes come true in the new year, eat 12 grapes during the 12 times the bells ring at midnight and make 12 wishes.
    7. Sweep the floor of your house through the door and out to avoid bad luck.
    8. Throw a bucket of water out of your house to clean it from bad vibes.
    9. Sweep money inside to have prosperity.
    10. Put money in your shoes for prosperity.
    11. Also write on a paper everything you don't want anymore in your life like sadness, anger, etc... and then burn it.

     And, especially, don't forget to say thank you for all the good things you had during the year that is coming to its end.

    The History of New Year's Resolutions

    Bill Vaughan: An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in.
     A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.

    The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.

    JanusThe Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Thus he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new. The Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year's Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common New Year's gifts.

    Top 10 New Year's Resolutions

    First of all, sticking with a resolution: Start with the principle that one and only one resolution at a time is required. Trying to quit drinking, lose weight and stop smoking at the same time would be ridiculously aggressive. Describe your resolutions in specific terms. Instead of "I don't want to be lazy," opt for "I want to exercise three days a week" or "I will cut down my television watching to two hours a day." Break down large goals into smaller ones. For instance, commit to losing weight by resolving to join a gym and improve your eating habits. Baby steps…remember! And, definitely WRITE THEM DOWN!

    By the way, if you do have a moment of weakness and slip up a bit, that’s okay; you are human. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Forgive yourself (as you would your best friend!), and the very next day, go back to work on your goal, strengthening your resolve even more.

    And, last but not least, have faith in yourself. You can do anything if you set your mind on that goal. Remember that it is never too late to become what you might have been.

    See if your resolution made the Top 10 and get some quick starts for easy goals.

    1. Spend More Time with Family & Friends

    Recent polls show that more than 50% of Americans vow to appreciate loved ones and spend more time with family and friends this year. Make plans to meet up with friends for an evening of camaraderie at a favorite restaurant. Work shouldn't always come first! Resolve to answer a friend's mail almost immediately without letting it sit in your inbox forever! And, believe it or not, it’s easy to maintain contact with old friends through Facebook. You’re never too old to learn new technology. One thing about the Lake Chapala, there’s always a friend to go out to dinner with and the dinners are so inexpensive here too.

    2. Fit in Fitness

    Do you want to improve the quality of your life? Do you want to look and feel better than you have in years? Do you want to protect yourself from disease and injury? And do you want to live a longer, more vital life? I'm sure you answered YES to each of those questions, and, of course, the answer is getting fit and staying fit.

    Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to man (or woman!). Everything you read shows that it reduces the risk of some cancers, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure, and even improves arthritis. Exercise is good for people with diabetes. It can help control your weight and lower your blood sugar level. It also lowers your risk of heart disease, a condition that is common in people who have diabetes. Exercise can also help you feel better about yourself and improve your overall health. What’s not to like about all that? However, what many people try to do is go from zero to 60 in a flash. Your focus should be on consistent participation, not performance.

    Quick starts: Think of exercise as a gift you give yourself, make sure you enjoy it (can anyone say Wii tennis?), make sure it's convenient, start with small goals, exercise during commercials (did you know there's over 20 minutes of commercial time during each hour of a show!), don't park in the closest spot to your destination, do an everyday activity at a slightly faster pace, go dancing at one of the many restaurant spots in Ajijic: La Bodega, La Tasca, Manix. Take salsa or tango lessons. There are a multitude of ways to get fit. “I will hire a personal trainer this year.” “I will get an exercise buddy with the same goals as mine.”

    Did you also know exercising 10 minutes three times a day is just as good as exercising for 30 minutes at a time. All of us have 10 minute periods when we just need a break to stretch those muscles, don't we?

    Mark Twain: New Year's Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.

    3. Tame the Bulge

    Over 66 percent of adult Americans are considered overweight or obese by recent studies, so it is not surprising to find that weight loss is one of the most popular New Year's resolutions. Setting reasonable goals and staying focused are the two most important factors in sticking with a weight loss program. Do you realize that just being 10% over your realistic body weight qualifies you as obese?

    Global obesity

    • An estimated 17.6 million children under five are estimated to be overweight worldwide. This translates into one in 10 children.
    • About 1.7 billion adults are considered overweight, with at least 312 million being clinically obese.

    Some quick easy starts: Set realistic goals, avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup, don't compare yourself to others, identify your ideal weight, ignore most fast food places, get eight hours of sleep, eat plenty of fiber and drink water hourly. Any one of those would be a good resolution! “I will join Weight Watchers Online.” It’s not that expensive! There’s and…both free. However, sometimes when it’s free, you don’t place much value in it! Maybe you need to pay a little money to understand something's true worth. "I will avoid soft drinks." "I will eat smaller portions more often." “I won’t stop at the bagel shop for breakfast more than three times a week.” “I will refrain from eating dessert when I go out to a restaurant.” “I will have one fasting day a week.” “I will eat a healthy breakfast at least four times a week.” "I want to fit into my pre-baby jeans" or ‘my pre-menopause jeans!”

    4. Quit Smoking

    Mark Twain said, "Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it a thousand times." If you have resolved to make this the year that you stomp out your smoking habit, even if you've tried to quit before and failed, don't let it get you down. On average, smokers try about four times before they quit for good. Start enjoying the rest of your smoke-free life! Our program director Ana (almost a year!), and team member Bill (three years in January 2010!) stopped smoking, and they have never felt better!

    Quick starts: Cut back on smoking gradually, get a quit-smoking buddy, have your teeth whitened, drink lots of water, avoid sugar and fatty food, begin an exercise program, set a quit date, change your habits (different route to work, breakfast or lunch in a different place). Try a change in your smoking habits. Maybe try smoking five cigarettes less per day or delay smoking by 30 minutes after waking. Daily affirmations really do work: "I am a nonsmoker" or "I am strong and healthy", and commit them to paper. Daily affirmations will plant the seeds of change in your mind. Keep a journal of why you are quitting, how you are quitting and how you are doing.

    Throw out all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters and anything else that might remind you of smoking. Wash your clothes and clean your car to remove the smell of smoke. “I will put the money I’m saving on cigarettes in a piggy bank and buy something special at the end of the year.”

    Some people write down a list of reasons for quitting smoking with the title, in bold, "I will quit smoking cigarettes because"…Be as specific as possible for example, "I will quit smoking because people often shy away from be because I smell intensely of cigarette smoke" or "I will quit smoking cigarettes because I wake my family in the morning coughing" or even "John tells me doesn’t enjoy kissing me anymore because I taste like an ashtray smells!”

    See a resolution in any of those that would work for you?

    5. Enjoy Life More

    Given the hectic, stressful lifestyles of millions of Americans, it is no wonder that "enjoying life more" has become a popular resolution in recent years. It's an important step to a happier and healthier you!

    Quick starts: Go to a spa or therapeutic massage, try video games, get started on Wii exercise (it’s fun!). Join the Little Theater, join the Lake Chapala singing group, try your hand at writing or painting. So much to do; so little time! Find time to play. Turn “recreation” into “re-creation.” Gather some friends to play board games, dominoes or scrabble, or soccer, or to sing. Find activities that create laughter, which benefits emotional and physical health. Join the Lakeside Laughter Club starting in Lake Chapala! Meetings are on the beach behind the Nueva Posada Restaurant every Wednesday from 5-5:45 beginning December 9. Hope to see you there!

    6. Quit Drinking

    Many people are concerned that they may be drinking more than is desirable for health, social or other reasons, so start this year to decrease or moderate your drinking. Choose a drinking goal: safer drinking, reduced drinking, or quitting. Some strategies to consider: Eat before you drink, be well hydrated, measure your drinks, avoid drinking when you feel bad. If you are a daily drinker, try to add some abstinence days.

    Quick starts: Change your routine (drink mineral water with a dash or two of fruit juice for a nightcap, don’t stop for the nightly after-work drink), think about the weight you’ll lose (and the money you’ll save). If you’re out, alternate one alcoholic beverage with a non-alcoholic one. Again…can you choose of one of these and make that a resolution? Baby steps…”I will have two abstinence days a week.” “I will surf the Internet instead of having a drink.” “I will phone a friend instead of having a drink.” “I will bowl on my Wii instead of having a drink.”

    Hopefully one of those will sing to your senses!

    7. Get Out of Debt

    Almost everyone’s finances can use a little cleaning. Was money a big source of stress in your life last year? Join the millions of Americans who have resolved to spend this year getting a handle on their finances. It's a promise that will repay itself many times over in the year ahead.

    A few quick starts to help you: Know your numbers: your income and expenses, credit score, interest rates you pay and earn, etc. When it comes to money, knowledge truly is power. Know your type. Knowing if you tend to be a spender, saver or avoider helps you steer clear of default behavior. Don’t spend what you don’t have. Put that credit card away only for emergencies (and shopping at doesn’t constitute an emergency!). Save, no matter what. Even if you save only a few dollars at first, what counts is the habit. Stay organized. Physical clutter contributes to mental clutter, which exacerbates financial avoidance. A resolution: “I will write down every time I write a check or use my debit card.” Those late fees are killers! “I will get a piggy bank and save all my change this year.” “I will buy two less lattes from Starbuck’s every week.”

    There’s got to be a trigger for you. Figure out what it is and write a fairly easy resolution that you know you will be committed to keep. Keep it simple!

    8. Learn Something New

    Have you vowed to make this year the year to learn something new? Perhaps you are considering a career change, want to learn a new language, or just how to fix your computer? Whether you take a course or read a book, you'll find education to be one of the easiest, most motivating New Year's resolutions to keep.

    And, if you live in the Lake Chapala area, there are so many new things to learn, you’ll run out of day before you run out of projects. I’ve always wanted to make a mosaic table, paint a picture or create stained glass. Maybe this year…

    9. Help Others

    A popular, non-selfish New Year's resolution, volunteerism can take many forms. Whether you choose to spend time mentoring a child, teaching a skill, or helping out at one of the many orphanages or old folks homes, there are many nonprofit volunteer organizations in the Lakeside area that could really use your help. You can learn about yourself, learn about others and meet a lot of interesting people by volunteering. You can help others as you help yourself. There are so many worthwhile organizations in the Lake Chapala area, you will have a hard time choosing.

    10. Get Organized

    This one is just about on every New Year resolution top ten list. Organization can be a very reasonable goal. Whether you want your home organized enough that you can invite someone over on a whim, or your office organized enough that you can find the stapler when you need it, or if having a disorganized house is effecting everything you do, then this is the resolution for you! But don't worry or think too much about it though. Just remember to have a clean and clutter-less spirit.

    If you want to get organized, start with this very simple resolution: “I will put things back where I found them.” That’s a very reasonable way to start! Imagine…always knowing where your cordless phone, remote or keys are. What a concept!

    And in the tradition of laughing more, here are some resolutions that should tickle your funny bone, and you do know that laughing is exercise, don’t you? 

    Funny New Year Resolutions

    • I will give up chocolates totally. 100%. Completely. Honestly....
    • I will not bore my boss by with the same excuse for taking leaves. I will think of some new excuses.
    • I will do less laundry and use more deodorant.
    • I will try to figure out why I really need nine e-mail addresses.
    • I resolve to work with neglected children—my own.
    • I will stop sending e-mail, ICQ, Instant Messages and be on the phone at the same time with the same person.
    • I will think of a password other than "password."
    • I will always replace the gas nozzle before driving away from the pump.
    • I will try to drive closer to the speed limit.
    • I will stop buying useless stuff! (does anyone really need an egg separator or Christmas toilet paper?)
    • If I see a UFO, I won't tell anybody about it
    • I will start buying lottery tickets at a luckier store.
    • I will give up chocolates totally. 100%. Completely. Honestly!
    • I will not annoy the drive-through people by telling them my order is “to go.”
    • I will no longer leave the copy machine set to reduce 200%, extra dark, 17 inch paper, 98 copies.
    • I will stop hollering random numbers while someone is counting.
    • i will not type only in lowercase.
    • I will not drive my car just half a block.
    • I will never tell a pun again.
    • I will never hide a jigsaw puzzle piece from a puzzle someone is working on.
    • I will no longer leave my Christmas lights up and lit until September.
    • I will never again hide the remote control from my spouse.
    • I promise not to marinate in my perfume before going out with friends.
    • I will give up chocolates totally. 100%. Completely. Honestly....
    • I will not wear my mini-skirt with support hose.
    • I will no longer count one glass of wine as a daily fruit.
    • I will try very hard to decipher the fine line between boredom and hunger.
    • I will never again take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.
    • I will remember that honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense.
    • I will stop being flypaper for freaks.
    • I will eat dessert first.
    • I will stop counting carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie among my daily vegetables.
    • I will remember my mouth does not have a backspace key.
    • I will remember never again to test the water with both feet. 
    • I will take neither myself nor any of the above list seriously.

    If I’ve made you laugh  or think at least once during this article, then my work here is done!

    Whatever you decide to do, experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity, such as exercising, to become a habit, and six months for it to become part of your personality. Your new healthful habits will become second-nature in no time.

    And, my toast to you for the new Year:

    May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions!

    -(Joey Adams)

    OR Karen's version

    May all your troubles be small and your New Year's resolutions be mighty!

    Good luck and a very Happy New Year!

    Life is too short to wake up with regrets.
    So love the people who treat you right.
    Forget about the ones who don't.
    Believe everything happens for a reason.
    If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands.
    If it changes your life, let it.
    Nobody said life would be easy,
    They just promised it would be worth it.


    Tere Ruiz-Rodarte: Director of Research and Development FocusOnMexico
    Karen McConnaughey: Operations Manager for FocusOnMexico.

    Focus On Mexico  offers 8-Day Educational Programs to Ajijic and Lake Chapala, Mexico (2nd Best Climate in the World). Join us on a Focus program and learn why thousands of Americans and Canadians chose to retire in Lake Chapala .

    Our programs offer the perfect balance; a wonderful vacation and an insightful, educational experience. Our expert speakers cover all topics: Health Care, Real Estate, Legal System, Immigration, Bringing Pets, Cost of Living, US Taxes for Americans, Non-Residency for Canadians, Living on the Lakeside, Investing in Mexico, Mexican Economy and much more...

    You’ll get everything you need to help you decide if Lake Chapala, Mexico is the place for you, plus have a lot of fun doing it. Retiring in Mexico couldn't be better.

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