- On December 30, 2015
- In Culture
Latino New Year’s Eve Traditions you Need to do this Year
New Year’s Eve is a day when most Latino households become a little superstitious, and we love it. Whether we are trying to eat 12 grapes in 12 seconds during the final countdown, or burning imaginary people made of straw, our rituals never cease to amuse and delight us. The truth is, no matter how bizarre some of them might be, when the 31st comes around there are more than a few which we wouldn’t dare skip; partly because they’re a lot of fun, and partly because after years of tradition we can’t help but think that they hold true. Each country in Latin America has their own separate New Year rituals, which are called cábalas or agüeros in spanish, and they’re performed with slight variations depending on the country. A great number of our cábalas come from Spain. Others come from South American countries, like Brazil which passed on to other countries the custom of wearing white on New Year’s Eve. All of them are about bringing good fortune and ridding ourselves of any negativity from the past year, but they all vary in difficulty, and some are more outlandish than others. Below are our favorites: Burning Objects Like in many places around the world, we make a list of resolutions, or wishes for the new year which we like to write down. But, that’s not the only list we make. We also make a list of all the things we’d like to forget from the past year and subsequently burn it in order to be truly rid of all their negative energy. We also light candles… A lot of candles. Depending on their color, each candle stands for a different wish we want from the coming year. On a bigger scale, some countries burn a life sized rag doll or straw-person known as “The Old Year,” as a symbol for any obstacles we encountered during the past year, and to effectively push all that negative energy out of our lives. Eating Grapes and Lentils Italy gave us the cábala of eating a spoonful of lentils to secure financial gains the next year. But it doesn’t stop at just eating, other people opt to put uncooked lentils in their purse and keep them there for the next twelve months to attract more money to fall into it! Another thing we eat is, of course, the grapes -- twelve to be exact, for each month of the year, so that they are all good ones. This will only work if the grapes are eaten as soon as the clock strikes 12 (most of us eat them during the countdown, and a relaxed few believe you have the first 12 minutes of the year.) This tradition started ironically in the late 1800’s, when a group of Madridians decided to make fun of the bourgeois and copied their New Year habit of drinking champagne and eating grapes over dinner. Rituals Around the House Our New Year’s Eve rituals have served many parents as the perfect excuse to encourage their children to help out with the cleaning, that’s what most of these are. As in sweeping around the house and out the door to sweep last year’s troubles away. Or starting in the early morning and cleaning the whole house for a fresh start. We also turn on every single light in our homes to receive the new year with clarity and prosperity. The More Unusual Ones Then we have the little things we do, “just in case it comes true.” Like putting all of our weight on our right foot as the clock strikes twelve, in order “to start off with the right foot.” Colombia has a peculiar tradition involving potatoes: you must throw three potatoes under the bed: one peeled, one half peeled, and the other intact. Then without looking, you need to reach under the bed and grab one of them. What you pull out will determine your financial fate: a peeled potato means you will be in very deep financial troubles, half peeled means you’ll have just enough, while the unpeeled potato means that you will do great in matters of money. If you spend New Year’s Eve in a Latin American home you might notice several people firmly grasping some bills in their hand as they count the final seconds before the New Year arrives. This may seem silly , but you might want to join in, as they are actually performing another ritual to invoke wealth. We recommend you do this as soon as it turns 12 to better your chances of having more of it. Also, it’s better if the money comes from your own wallet! And… If you see a group of people running around your block, suit-cases in hand, it’s probably not because they’re about to miss their flight. This ritual is very popular in many Latin American countries. It is done in the hopes that it will bring lots of travelling our way. If you’d like to take part in this tradition, be wary, your suitcase should not be empty: some people put money in them; and others clothes to match each season and secure year-round travel. All of these are fun and speak volumes of who we are as a culture. For many Latinos, the most important tradition of all is being with our family and showing them how much they mean to us. Sometimes this means making fun of each other’s quirky beliefs, or participating in them together. These rituals have become a hilarious way to bring us closer. If you think we missed any, or you have a particular favorite, tell us about it in the comments. We will be doing some of these ourselves tonight and we hope you are too! Our sincerest and best wishes to all of you for the new year....