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8 Latino Traditions You Need To Recreate To Ring In the New Year Con Buenas Vibras

For lots of us, the Holidays can be a stressful time from buying presents for family to going to parties where you have to see that one tia or someone who held you as a baby and won’t stop telling you about it. But Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve) can be a great time to reconnect with family and partake in some much-loved age-old traditions. Here are our favorites.

1. Las Doce Uvas de la Suerte (Latin America and Spain)

Throughout Latin America, Spain, and Latinx communities in the U.S., it’s common to eat 12 grapes right before midnight for good luck, and according to some, to ward off witches and bad luck. This tradition originated in Spain in 1895 when grape farmers from Alicante in southern Spain wanted a reason to sell a large number of grapes after an abundant harvest. Since then, the tradition has taken off throughout the Spanish-speaking world from El Salvador to Chile.

2. Colored Underwear (Mexico)

Another common tradition throughout Latin America, most popular in Mexico, is wearing red or yellow underwear depending on how you want the new year to go. According to the tradition, one wears red underwear if they want to have a passionate love life in the new year or yellow underwear if they want to have financial success. This tradition supposedly dates back to the middle ages when red was associated with passion and witchcraft and yellow was associated with gold and wealth. 

3. La Maleta (Colombia)

Do you want to travel next year? If so, then you might want to pack your maleta (suitcase) on New Year’s Eve. According to this tradition, popular in Colombia, if one wants to travel in the upcoming year, they should pack a maleta with some of the things they might need and walk around the block at midnight. Supposedly, if one takes part in this tradition, they’ll go on many trips next year.

4. Lentejas (Chile and Mexico)

No Latinx holiday is complete without food, but for New Year’s Eve, the best thing to eat is lentejas (lentils). According to tradition throughout Latin America if one eats lentejas on New Year’s Eve the next year they’ll have financial success and luck. This tradition originated in Ancient Rome when Romans would put Lentils in their money bags hoping it would turn into gold coins with the New Year. 

5. Pouring Out Water (Cuba, Puerto Rico, & Uruguay)

Do you remember the Ice Bucket challenge? Well, there’s a similar tradition to celebrate the New Year in the Caribbean and Uruguay. In Cuba and Puerto Rico, people will fill pots and pans with water and dump them out a window to wash away the malas vibras from last year. Uruguayans take this a step further, throwing water and cider at each other in what’s called la batalla de sidra (the cider battle). 

6. Burning Muñecos (Ecuador & Argentina)

In various parts of South America, burning muñecos (effigies) is a common way to forget about the past and get ready for the año nuevo. This tradition, most popular in Argentina and Ecuador, starts a few weeks before the new year when old clothes and wood are used to make muñecos resembling various figures in popular culture. Then the muñecos are burnt to get rid of bad energy and start a fresh new year. This tradition supposedly started when a bad wave of Yellow fever hit the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil and citizens burned the old clothes of their dead relatives to get rid of the disease.

7. Flor de Santa Lucia (Costa Rica)

In Costa Rica, the Flor de Santa Lucia signifies the New Year for many because this purple flower only grows close to the New Year. According to tradition, keeping a branch of this flower in your wallet will bring you economic prosperity for the next year. It’s also considered good luck if a friend gives you a bouquet of Santa Lucias close to the New Year. 

8. Velas (Dominican Republic)

In parts of the Dominican Republic on New Year’s Eve, people light 12 candles to celebrate the holy trinity. When midnight approaches, they put 11 of the candles out and leave one lit for the New Year. The color of the candle left lit signifies what one wants most in the New Year: yellow means financial success, green means health, and blue means peace. 

9. Abrazos (Puerto Rico)

A popular Puerto Rican tradition is to have a New Year’s Eve dinner complete with pasteles, lechón, and arroz con gandules then drink coquito while waiting for the clock to hit midnight. Once the clock hits midnight, everyone gives each other hugs and does a toast where they say thank you for all the good things that happened in the past year. 

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