22 New Year's Eve Traditions The World Can Learn From Latin America

22 New Year's Eve Traditions The World Can Learn From Latin America
woman holding hands on her flat ...
woman holding hands on her flat ...

Editor's Note: In light of the upcoming new year, we're revisiting a post first published in December 2012.

It's time say good-bye to the old!

But oh, if only it were that simple. With almost two dozen New Year's Eve traditions, Latin Americans not only bid farewell to another year gone by but make sure the next one will be even better.

From wish-granting grapes to peeled potatoes under your bed, from burning rag dolls right down to the color of your underwear -- there's nothing that says "so long and good riddance" like these New Year's Eve rituals and superstitions. These traditions vary from family to family, but every Latino has at least heard or done one in their lifetime.

So pop the champagne and let's toast (don't forget that gold ring!) to a happier, more prosperous, and loving new year!

Eat 12 grapes and make 12 wishes
As soon as the clock strikes 12, eat one grape for each month of the new year -- that's 12 total -- while simultaneously making a wish for each grape that you consume.

But beware! Get a sour grape and that could mean a bad month is in store for you.
Clean your house for a fresh start
Want to start 2017 with a clean slate? Then start by cleaning your home. Many believe that tidying up and tossing out old trash before the new year will rid them of any negativity still lingering in their life from the previous year.
Make a wish list for the new year
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Consider your lista de deseos (wish list) your roadmap for the coming year.

Much like a list of New Year's Resolutions, a lista de deseos details all of the goals that you hope to accomplish in the new year, as well as some abstract wishes, like achieving world peace or finding "the one." Whatever it is that you put on your list, make sure to also write down how you plan to meet those goals.

Read your list to yourself after midnight, and be sure to revisit it again throughout the year.
Choose the color of your undies carefully
Your future happiness and love life may very well depend on your undies.

Superstition has it that wearing a pair of red underwear on New Year's Eve will guarantee you a year filled with passion and love. If you're wearing a pair of yellow underwear when the ball drops, there will be money and happiness in your future.

Be bold and wear a pair that incorporates both colors!
Run around the block with luggage
If travel is what you're looking for in the new year, pack a suitcase with items that represent the kind of trip you'd like to take. For instance, pack a swimsuit if you're dreaming of a beach getaway or a snowsuit if you're hoping a ski vacation is in your future. Next, run around your block (or up and down your stairs) with your luggage in hand.

Bon voyage!
Grab a wad of cash before midnight
If you want financial security in the new year, then you should start the year off with some cash in hand.

Before the clock strikes midnight, put your drink down and grab some bills (preferably from your own wallet). Having money in your hand at midnight is meant to ensure economic prosperity in the new year.

Keep in mind that holding a $100 bill will give you better results than a $1 bill!
Sweep out the negative energy
If this year brought you nothing but problems, suffering, tears, etc., grab a broom and get to sweeping.

On New Year's Eve, take a broom to the front door and start sweeping out towards the street. This ritual should rid you of all the negativity you've harbored throughout the year.
Burn the bad and leave it in the past
While many will be focusing on all the dreams and goals they hope to fulfill in the new year, it's also important to make sure all the bad stuff that happened stays in the past.

Before midnight, take some time to write everything you'd like to forget from the previous 12 months. Next light your list on fire (in a fireproof container!) and watch your past troubles burn, baby, burn. Once you've left the bad memories in ashes, you'll be ready to take on the new year.
Drink with bling for a prosperous new year
Bling in the new year!

For a little more financial luck in the new year, simply take anything gold (like a ring) and drop it in the drink you plan on toasting with after the ball drops. You should be golden for the rest of the year.
Eat a spoonful of lentils
Nothing fills the stomach -- and the wallet -- like a spoonful of lentils.

People who follow this ritual believe that eating lentils throughout the last day of the year, or a spoonful immediately at the beginning of the new year, will guarantee that the next year will be filled with riches.
Light a candle for health, love or peace
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Lighting candles on New Year's Eve can help make the new year prosperous and positive. Lighting a green candle will bring you good health, while a yellow candle will help your financial troubles. Orange candles are thought to bring wisdom, and blue candles will bring peace. And if you're looking for love and passion? Try lighting a red candle.
Wear your underwear inside out until after midnight
Wearing your underwear inside out on New Year's Eve, then turning them right side out during the first few minutes of the new year will guarantee plenty of new clothes in the new year.
End the tear with a splash
For many, moving on isn't necessarily water under the bridge. It's more like throwing a bucket of water out of a window.

In this New Year's Eve ritual, water symbolizes all of the suffering and tears you'd like to get rid off before the start of the new year. Whether it's a glass or a bucket full of water, splashing your woes out onto the street can be the best way to put the past behind you. Just make sure no one is walking by while you're "moving on."
Put a lover's portrait under your pillow
Not all rituals and superstitions are about forgetting the past.

Anyone who isn't willing to call it quits with a former flame, or who is simply hoping to catch a certain someone's attention in the new year, should take their beloved's photograph, tie a red ribbon around it and place it underneath their pillow.
Turn on the lights for a brighter new year
Many believe having all of the house (or apartment) lights on at midnight will bring them clarity and prosperity in the new year. The trick here is to turn off most of the lights soon after the clock strikes twelve, otherwise the ritual will backfire and the first "gift" you'll receive in the new year will be a hefty electricity bill.
Wear white for peace and health
Wearing white on New Year's Eve is said to bring you good health and internal peace in the new year. The color is also known to absorb positive energy.
Start off the year on the RIGHT foot
There's nothing like starting the year off on the right foot -- literally. Making sure that only your right foot is firmly planted on the ground when the clock strikes midnight can bring you good luck in the new year. If you ever see someone striking a flamingo stance just as the new year arrives, then it's likely they are keen to this New Year's Eve superstition. Don't judge them.
Sit and stand, repeat three times for results
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As the new year begins, those who want to get married or who simply want find that special someone, must sit and stand three times to get their wish fulfilled.
Place a handful of lentils in your handbag
Because you can't get enough lentils, right?!

Many Latin Americans believe putting a handful of dry, uncooked lentils in their pocket, purse or backpack will bring them wealth in the new year.
Watch the old year turn to ashes
In many Latin American countries, large life-sized rag dolls representing the "Old Year" are made with whatever material is on hand. Tradition dictates that these dolls be burned in the New Year to symbolically purify the maker and help rid them of any residual negative energy still lingering from the previous year.

WARNING: While symbolically meaningful, we recommend not burning any life-size rag dolls inside your home or yard. Fire safety first!
Pick the right potato
In Colombia and Peru, some believe in throwing three potatoes underneath the bed on New Years Eve: one unpeeled, one half peeled, and one completely peeled ("pelado"). Without looking, you must reach under the bed and grab the first potato your hand bumps into. Colloquially, if someone is "pelado" this means they are financially "broke." Thus, if you grab the potato that is completely peeled you will find financial hardship in the new year. A half peeled potato means some economic troubles ahead, while a potato that is not peeled may mean money is in your future.
Throw pennies in hopes of good fortune
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After midnight, step outside and toss 12 pennies behind you as you face the opposite side of the street. Some believe this will bring you good financial fortune in the new year.
In Brazil, offer boats for blessings
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Brazilian worshippers of Yemanjá (also known as Iemanjá) celebrate the deity by offering flowers and launching boats, large and small, into the ocean during the final days of the year in exchange for blessings in the new year.

Before You Go

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