Commentary: Walter Mercado is the Face of the Holidays for Latinos

How do you know it’s time for the holidays? Is it the smell of roasted turkey? Or larger than life Christmas decorations? Or is it watching Charlie Brown cartoons? Well, for me, and a lot of Latinos, I know it’s the holidays when I see the Revista de Walter Mercado. The Puerto Rican psychic is Latino pop culture treasure—his on-point predictions are only superseded by his flamboyant style (hello, capes!).

Growing in 1980s Brooklyn, Mercado was a staple during the holidays in our household. His Liberace-esque demeanor took over our TV and our hearts. Every December, Telemundo would air a Walter Mercado year-end hour-long special where he would predict what would happen in the following year for each sign. I know what you’re thinking. Really? Yes! It was as real as his oversized ruby rings!

To top off the show, Mercado would detail a baño—a final bath of the year— for each astrological sign to enter the New Year with buena suerte. My family and I would cling to his every word, even recording the special on our VCR (it’s like an old-timey DVR). My older sister would jot down the materials (usually found at your barrio’s friendly botanica) and then mix it up on New Year’s Eve. It would involve anything from flowers to cinnamon to champagne.