10 New Year Traditions in Hispanic Countries

In Spanish-speaking countries most of the New Year traditions are aimed at bringing good luck for the following year. Most of these rituals take place amongst friends and family either during the day or around midnight on New Year’s Eve (la Nochevieja).

1. Eating 12 grapes at midnight

On each chime of the bells at midnight it is a huge tradition to put a grape in your mouth. If you are able to swallow them all it is thought to bring you good luck for the coming year. This tradition began in Spain but other South American countries and Mexico also do this. It can be very funny and quite a challenge given that the grapes in Spain usually contain seeds!

2. Wearing coloured underwear

In many Hispanic countries the colour yellow stands for good luck. This is why many people wear yellow underwear at new year celebrations to receive good luck.

White is also a popular colour to wear at new year as it represents freshness and new beginnings. Even a white pair of socks, a T-shirt are worn at new year.

Red underwear on the other hand implies romance and passion awaits!

3. Burning dolls (muñecos)

In Ecuador and other countries people create huge dolls after Christmas and then wait until New Year to burn them. This represents saying goodbye to the past year and negativity and welcoming in the new one. It can also be a way of representing unpopular politicians and celebrities.

4. Holding money

Some people like to be holding money in their hands as the clock strikes midnight. Usually this is coins and particularly silver coins. This is to bring good fortune in the new year making sure it will be a prosperous one.

5. Eating lentils

Eating lentils at new year is another way of bringing in prosperity during the coming year. It is thought that the lentils stand for coins. Some people eat them at midnight but others eat them on new year’s day for lunch.

6. Walking around with luggage

If you want to travel next year you should walk around your house or down the street with a suitcase! The key to guarantee the trip that you want to make is to pack in the suitcase clothing related to the place you want to visit. So if you want to go on a beach holiday you would pack your swimsuit.

7. Cleaning the house

By doing housework at new year this symbolises “out with the old, in with the new”. It is thought to welcome in new energies in the coming year. Some people even wear new clothes whilst cleaning to further emphasise this idea. So in Hispanic homes it is really important to have a spotless house before new year arrives!

8. Throwing water out the window

Another popular tradition is to throw a bucket of water out the window, again to get rid of the old things from the past year or anything sad or negative that made you cry and therefore welcome in new, positive things in the new year. If the water falls on someone you don’t like, they are thought to receive bad luck next year.

9. Standing on one foot

As the clock strikes midnight, some people stand on their right foot to “start the new year off on the right foot”!

10. Dropping fruit into champagne glass

Many people choose to drink champagne at new year but the Hispanic tradition is to drop a gold ring into your glass. The idea is that this will bring in more money next year. If you prefer to drop in fruit like cherries or strawberries, this is thought to bring new love. You should drink the whole glass for it to work!

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