Christmas is a beautiful time. It allows us to enjoy delicious dishes, share family time, spend quality time with friends and give thanks for the successes of the year. And not only Christmas, New Year’s Eve in Latin America is also celebrated with great fanfare. 🎄
In addition to the music, food and colour that accompany this special date, there are also very particular traditions that enrich the Hispanic culture. 🎁
In Spanish Express we have prepared a list of some customs that go hand in hand with the celebration of New Year’s Eve in Latin America and that you will surely find interesting and fun. 🎅
Remember that when studying Spanish it is important to immerse yourself in the culture and folklore of the Hispanic countries in order to obtain a comprehensive and lasting learning experience. 😉
Are you ready to start this story? Come on! ✍️
New Year’s Eve in Latin America
Sweeping the house
Sweeping the house from the inside out on New Year’s Eve is one of the most widespread Christmas traditions in Latin America. This domestic chore takes on a new meaning when it is done right on New Year’s Eve, as cleaning the house is associated with purification and the desire to put aside the negative aspects of the old year.
By casting away the bad energies of the past, we are ready to receive the bonanza and good vibes that the new calendar may bring into our lives and the lives of our loved ones.
Getting under the table
Last year we explained that wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve in Latin America and Spain is a rather cabalistic way of attracting luck in love. Well, there is a more recent tradition, which enjoys a good deal of popularity, and whose aim is basically the same.
It’s hard to believe, but many young people believe that crawling under the table just as the New Year’s chimes ring out will bring them great joy in their love life. Who knows? Maybe it’s worth a try sometime?
Burning a doll
In countries such as Argentina, Peru and Ecuador, one of the most traditional New Year’s Eve rituals consists of making a rag doll and setting it on fire until it burns completely. This doll serves as a metaphor for the bad feelings and negative energies left by the old year.
Although at the beginning these dolls were made with straw and wooden boards, over time the technique of making them has evolved. Nowadays it is common to see quite complex figures destined for the flames for the enjoyment of the spectators.
As a curiosity, in some areas of Peru, faces of politicians or local characters are put on the dolls before they are set on fire.
Put a coin in the shoe
It’s not all love and good wishes. A better financial situation is the wish of many for the year ahead, so it is not surprising that there is a ritual to attract financial prosperity.
Although it may be a bit awkward, some Latin American countries have the custom of using a coin in the shoe on New Year’s Eve to call for good fortune. In others, such as Mexico, it is customary to fold a dollar note in the wallet as a sign of good fortune.
Cracking an egg
Yes, just as you read it: in some Central American countries people are accustomed to crack an egg into a glass of water during New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Some leave the glass under the bed, next to the vending machine or even outside the house, i.e. in the open air.
They say that, the next day, depending on the shape of the egg in the glass, they may have some clues about the fortune of the coming year.
Throwing old papers
In Uruguay and other South American countries there is a tradition of throwing old papers out of the window to say goodbye to the year that is leaving.
These papers usually include almanacs from the old year, letters, bills and anything else we want to leave behind to make way for a new life. It is worth noting that the papers are often torn or burnt before being thrown into the air.
In other countries we can see a variant of this custom: not only papers, but also old shoes, junk and unused objects are thrown out of the window as a form of purification and detachment from material things. Undoubtedly, a very peculiar tradition for New Year’s Eve in Latin America.
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Alejandro Coita Sánchez
Spanish Express Blogger