On December 31, people around the world celebrate New Year’s Eve. While every country may have different ways of ringing in the new year, the commonality is the hope for prosperity, fortune, and good health in the days to come.
Here are some popular traditions in Latin American countries:
1) Twelve grapes – As the clock strikes midnight, people eat twelve grapes to represent each month of the year. This is supposed to bring luck to all of those who partake. Some may even pop an extra one in their mouths for more luck. In Chile, people eat lentils when the clock strikes midnight.
2) New underwear – Yes, that’s right. Wearing the right kind of underwear on New Year’s Eve can make or break your year. Red is your best choice is if you’re looking for your soul mate or just interested in having quite the amorous year. Yellow underwear could provide you with a prosperous year in your personal finances. But avoid wearing black underwear on New Year’s Eve, unless bad luck is what you’re after.
3) Hold onto your silver – By holding onto some money at midnight, you might experience economic success in the new year. In some countries, people believe that hiding money around the house will bring prosperity.
4) Travel in a circle – Do you have a dream vacation that you’ve been wanting to take? Well, then walk around in circles with a suitcase. Tradition states that by doing so you’ll have a year filled with plenty of travel.
5) Toss out the old – People in Latin America fill up a cup or bucket with water and toss it out of their window, over their shoulder, or onto their front yard. The significance of this tradition varies among countries—some believe it gets rid of the bad luck from the old year. For others, it means that you’ll have fewer tears.
6) Clean up! – If you’re looking to rid your house of evil spirits, you can do so by cleaning and dusting them away. Cleaning up your house means you’ll start the new year with fresh, positive energy and a clean soul.
7) Burn them all – In some countries, people create large dolls called muñecos or effigies of people who have been prominent in their lives or in the news during the year. After Christmas, the muñecos are put on display and then burned in a bonfire.
8) Make some noise – Whether you shake rattles, blow horns, light firecrackers, or beat some pots and pans, making loud noises on New Year’s helps scare away evil spirits and negative energy.
9) Maria has a little lamb – In some Latin American countries, people hang a wool toy lamb outside their front door, which signifies good fortune.
10) Three Kings Day – Also known as el Día de Reyes, it is celebrated on January 6. The tradition is based on the biblical story of the three wise men, or Magi, bringing gifts to the newborn king. Kids will leave hay or dry grass for the Wise Men’s camels to eat before putting their shoes under their bed and expecting them to be filled with candies and small gifts by morning. On this day, people eat a rosca de reyes, which is a round pastry decorated with candied fruit, figs and cherries. In Mexico, a plastic baby figurine is baked inside the pastry. Whoever finds the figurine in their slice of the dessert will be tasked to make tamales and be the host of the feast!