Every country and region in the world welcomes the new year on December 31st and January 1st in its own unique way, although it is safe to say most always share it with friends and family. But there are always traditions, rituals and superstitions that come with the new year and which are unique to each of the world's peoples, with some being as common as hugs, while others not so much.
And Latin America has some of the strangest, but fun, traditions for New Year's Eve and Day:
- Looking for love in the new year? Put on a pair of red briefs
It's not about going around pretending to be Superman. This tradition involves using underwear of a certain color, depending on what you most desire for the new year. Wearing:
Red is supposedly meant to bring you love,
Yellow leads to money,
Green some health,
Blue patience and tranquility
And black for sex. So there you go.
- Eat a grape for every month, and you'll have a wish for every grape
Sofia Vergara's character of Gloria on the hit series "Modern Family" swore by this tradition , referenced in this past January's episode of the show), although it's not exclusive to her native Colombia. Widespread throughout Latin America, it consists of eating 12 grapes at midnight on New Year's Day, one for each stroke at midnight, and asking for a wish each time. But most people don't have any clocks that "strike" at all anymore, so the tradition has morphed into simply explaining the grape-eating as 12 for each month of the new year.
Anyway you explain it to yourself is fine though, just be quick about it and have a "wishlist" ready to chow-down grapes thinking about a new job, more money or that crush you have.
- Sweep your house, from the inside, out.
If you're in a Latino neighborhood (or in a Latin American country) and happen to come upon a New Year's reveler maddeningly sweeping the inside of their house towards the outside, it's probably just someone trying out another New Year's tradition. That person is sweeping away any "bad vibes" out of the house, making room for the good ones that are coming their way.
- Packing a suitcase full of luggage
Want to travel next year? Then literally pack your bags and head out the door. At least for an instant on New Year's Day at 12. Pack as if you're actually heading out on some big trip, and similar to the grape thing, go in and out the door 12 times for each stroke at midnight. That'll give you much travels during the new year.
- Jump seven waves at the beach
This is for those of you more attuned to Brazil. Over there, a tradition is to to jump seven beach waves that represent each day of the week, in order to bring about good luck. While odd to us Northern Hemisphere folks, there is little surprise in the fact that most Brazilians spend their New Year's Eve at the beach, since most of Brazil is located in the Southern Hemisphere, where our winters are their summers. They also dress in all white, to scare off any bad spirits.
- Enjoy some lentils
Lentils are fairly common in Latin America, so it's not surprising they were made part of a tradition for ringing in the new year. In some countries, people eat lentil soup as their first meal of the year, and also place a fistful of lentils at the table center. This will bring you money and stable home finances.
- Doll or figurine burning
Limited to Peru (mostly), this makes people burn dolls that represent unpopular political or entertainment figures, as a sort of social catharsis each year.
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