Just like in many other places around the world, Latinos celebrate the New Year by toasting family members and friends with champagne, or cider. But they also have many other quirky traditions.
Eating 12 grapes at midnight (sometimes one more for extra good luck) is a popular Latin American tradition. It’s meant to secure 12 months of happiness the following year. As soon as the clock strikes midnight, they pop in grape in by one until they reach 12, one for every month.
Many Latin Americans believe wearing yellow underwear on New Year’s Eve brings the person good luck the following year. The yellow underwear supposedly brings happiness, or money, depending on which country you are from.
Wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve has different meaning for different Latin American countries – some believe it brings them good luck, others believe it will help them find their soul mate the coming year, or give them an amorous year ahead. In Spanish tradition, the underwear should be bought by someone else.
Walking around the block, or down the stairs, with a suitcase means you’ll have a year with plenty of travel. Always dreamt of taking that dream vacation? Maybe lugging a suitcase will help you out next year.
In places like Ecuador, burning pictures of something you don’t want from the last year means you won’t get it the following year.
Panamanians celebrate with New Year’s “muñecos”, life-size effigies of prominent people that they end up burning at the stroke of midnight. Setting them on fire represents burning away miseries and evil from the previous year.
Countries like Paraguay and Colombia create an effigy called Año Nuevo, and they tie it up with fireworks and burn it up at midnight. Doing so supposedly wards off past troubles, mistakes and bad luck from the previous year.
Filling up a cup with water and tossing it onto the front yard means less tears the following year. Puerto Ricans believe throwing buckets of water out the window cleans the old year out. In some parts of Colombia, throwing a pan of water over your should means warding off all the bad luck from the previous year.
Latinos believe holding cash in hand or in their pocket when the clock strikes 12 bring them financial success the coming years. They will rake in dough, they believe, only if they are holding it at midnight.
What a New Year's Eve without a kiss from your loved ones? Latinos love to join in on the smooching fun.
Making loud noises – like beating pots and pans or setting off firecrackers – at midnight, supposedly scares away negative energies and evil spirits.
Throwing coins on the sidewalk supposedly will bring you financial luck in the New Year.
Brazilians believe jumping into the ocean seven times and throwing flowers on it means they’ll have a prosperous year ahead. Other countries also believe taking a dip into a pool or ocean wards off evil spirits from the previous year.
Chileans love to ring in the New Year – with the dead. Some spend the evening at a graveyard, set up chairs, and wait for the new year to arrive with the dead.
Cleaning the house and sweeping away dirt on New Year’s Eve supposedly symbolizes ridding the house of evil spirits – and cleansing the soul. It means starting the New Year fresh, with positive energy, and “cleansing” the spirits. Some however, believe the opposite. In the Dominican Republic, if you sweep the house on New Year’s Eve, you sweep away your luck. So a dirty house, they believe, is one with good luck.
In some parts of Spain, baking a cake (sometimes in the shape of a big ring) specifically for the New Year brings good luck. The cake is cut as the clock strikes 12.
In some parts of Spain, revelers celebrate by dancing on the street at midnight and ring in the New Year by dancing with strangers.
From wearing yellow underwear to eating 12 grapes to running around with luggage, Latinos are all about traditions on New Year's Eve.