Editor Letter: Viva las Tradiciones

Michele Walker, Orlando Magazine Editor, Photo By Roberto Gonzalez

Michele Walker, Orlando magazine editor (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” T.S. Eliot

I love this quote by T.S. Eliot, which looks ahead to the inevitable change and growth the New Year will bring to our lives, with the hope that what comes into our lives will be worth the wait.

There is a tag to this T.S. Eliot quote, “And to make an end is to make a beginning.” We rarely view the author of “The Waste Land” as an optimist, but perhaps it’s the optimist in me that views his now-famous New Year’s quote as one of hope.

When I was growing up in Orlando, New Year’s Day dinner was an event that set the tone for the entire year. I forced myself to eat black-eyed peas, otherwise known as Hoppin’ John, every single January first of my childhood. Mom cooked it with pork, another good luck food. She always did her best to ensure the year got off to a promising start.

One year I was sick, and even though I couldn’t hold down water, I still managed to squeeze some nutrient paste from a single, dreaded black-eyed pea. My entire year was on the line.

After moving around the country as an adult, I discovered southerners weren’t the only ones that used food for good fortune. Many Asian cultures feast on fish around the New Year, and in Europe, people eat carp, herring, and cod, something you’ll find in states like Minnesota and Wisconsin, the home of the lutefisk. In Spain, Cuba, and Mexico, they eat twelve grapes at midnight as quickly as possible to symbolize good luck for the coming twelve months. In Greece, they throw a whole pomegranate across the floor, releasing a sea of seeds that symbolize fertility, life, and abundance; it sounds like a mess.

Around twenty years ago, I lived next door to a family from Puerto Rico. I especially love their tradition of feasting on pork on New Year’s Day and throwing a bucket of water out their windows to drive away evil spirits. You can’t beat the symbolism of a good bucket throw.

Speaking of traditions, check out Susan Jenk’s story “A Goal is Just a Wish,” a fascinating read about resolutions, why we make them, why we need them, and tips for setting and achieving your goals in 2023.

Orlando magazine’s January 2023 edition features the Orlando Home Design Awards, where we recognize the top businesses in Central Florida’s home design industry. We launched the Orlando Home Design Awards in 2021, and it’s become a valued tradition used by many of our readers. This year we have expanded our awards, and you have voted for your favorite businesses in over 50 categories.

No matter where you come from, traditions are essential to our lives. They bring comfort, a sense of belonging, and safety and connect our past to our future. Rituals and traditions provide us with a sense of identity.

Here’s to finding your voice in 2023 and hoping that New Year’s Day is the first page in a blank book where you can write your next unforgettable story.

T. Michele Walker


Categories: Column, Home Page Features