New Years Suitcases
Place item was collected
West Jordan, UT
Point of Discovery/Informant Bio
Alex Bybee has been a friend of mine for about 8 years. He was born in 1996 in Salt Lake City, Utah where he was raised by his father and his mother, who immigrated from Colombia when she was 15. They continue to celebrate traditions from his mother’s country. Alex currently resides in Provo, Utah.
This interaction took place over the phone. Alex and I discussed a few of the traditions that they celebrate based on his mom’s heritage. Incidentally, Alex also lived in Colombia for two years when he served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Although he and his family have celebrated this particular New Years tradition for years, Alex wasn’t sure where the custom derived from.
Well, this one was always fun because it always freaked the neighbors out. My mom was young when she left Colombia, like 15, so she still had her roots there, but was old enough to remember the customs of her country, if that makes sense. So, yeah. At midnight on New Years, we’d run around with suitcases. It’s meant to symbolize good luck, or good luck in traveling, having many opportunities to travel. That’s basically it. You just run around. The people in my mission were also kind of stunned that I’d already been doing this stuff practically my whole life… Yeah.
The phone conversation was extremely casual and comfortable, given that we’ve been friends for so long. He spoke with a certain tenderness about the traditions of his mother’s home country, but at times spoke with an embarrassed tone; he seemed to have grown out of these customs. His voice perked up when he mentioned his mission. I gathered that it was because he had a personal connection to these customs because he’d actually been to Colombia rather than have the customs relayed to him through his mom.
Semester and year
Rivera, Josephine, "New Years Suitcases" (2018). USU Student Folklore Fieldwork. Paper 318.