When you think of New Year’s Eve in the United States, what typically comes to mind is watching the ball drop at midnight with your family or friends.
But are people all around the world doing the same thing? Here are a few of the interesting traditions from Latin America to help you ring in the new year!
In Panama, they believe that grapes are the key to a successful year! When the clock strikes midnight, you have to eat one grape for every month of the year – so twelve grapes. It also helps to make a wish with each grape. But watch out! A sour grape could mean that month will be unlucky.
A Packed Suitcase
If you’re craving adventure next year, then pack your bags and go… around the block! A common Latin American tradition is to pack a suitcase with items that represent the sort of trip you want to take (like sunscreen for the Ecuadorian coast!) Then you can walk around your home or around the block carrying your luggage to bring travel in the new year.
Cleaning Your House
Want to sweep last year under the rug? Then literally grab a broom! In Costa Rica, they believe you need to clean out the leftover evil spirits from the past year. This allows the good luck to fill the clean space. It is also common to leave your windows and doors open at midnight to let the bad out and the good in. Make sure you don’t sweep the next day, however. You don’t want to sweep the good luck away!
One of the most unique New Year’s traditions in Panama and Ecuador is the lighting of the Viejos or Muñecos. These are larger-than-life figures shaped like important or prominent people from the past year. Stuffed with sawdust and old clothes, these dummies are then lit on fire on New Year’s eve to burn away the old year. They are often filled with firecrackers as well, because the loud noises are said to scare away the ghosts!
Colors play an important role in the Dominican Republic when it comes to determining next year’s luck. Lighting candles in specific colors can welcome prosperity and positive thoughts. A green candle will bring good health while yellow candles spark financial success. Blue candles encourage peace in the new year and orange will bring you wisdom.
A common Latin American New Year’s tradition is to throw a glass or bucket of water into the street, tossing your woes and old tears away. In Montevideo, Uruguay (the newest location of our Gap Program!) they take it a step further with the Guerra de Sidra, or the the Cider War Festival. Large scale water and cider fights take over the city, encouraging everyone to toss the past year out!
Start the new year right with one of these unique traditions. If you’re ready to crush your New Year’s resolutions, AMIGOS is here to help! Check out our amazing programs for next summer here.