Top 5 Latino New Year's Traditions
Top 5 Latino New Year's Traditions: Taking a Walk with an Empty Suitcase Freepik

New Year's traditions act like a universal reset button for humanity, which gears up to go back to tackling both new and ongoing challenges, as well as the ever-present list of resolutions. Many cultures around the world bring their unique twists, and Latin American countries are no exception.

Drawing from their rich heritage encompassing indigenous, African, and European roots, Latin American countries showcase a diverse array of traditions to ring in the New Year.

Many Latino traditions involve the clothes we wear, others have to do with what we eat, and then -heads up- there are some that are more extravagant and include fire and water.

Essentially, these traditions focus on shedding negative experiences from the past year and prepare for success in the upcoming one, also seeking to secure good luck in the future.

The following Latino New Year's Traditions might be wildly popular or deeply rooted in tradition, and they might be pretty uniform or have variations depending on the region.

However, the reasons behind them are truly universal; wishing for love, peace, work, prosperity, money, good luck.

Top 5 Latino New Year's Traditions

1. Colombian and Venezuelan New Year's Traditions: Suitcases

Heads up to all who wish for many trips in the new year: a widely embraced New Year's tradition in Colombia and Venezuela involves stepping out at midnight for a leisurely stroll with an empty suitcase. It's usually a simple walk around the block.

If you seek a year filled with airplane journeys, extended walks admiring the finest skylines, idyllic beach escapes or invigorating mountain treks, this is a tradition that might just set the tone for a travel-filled year ahead.

2. South American New Year's Traditions: Special Underwear

There are numerous New Year's traditions associated with clothing. In Brazil, for instance, donning white attire is believed to ward off malevolent spirits. However, one of the most widespread customs revolves around the color of underwear.

In Argentina, it's customary to give pink undergarments during Christmas so that women can wear them on New Year's to attract prosperity. In Venezuela and Colombia, the underwear that evokes good luck for New Year's is supposed to be yellow.

In Mexico, on the other hand, people can choose from various colors based on the desired wish: yellow symbolizes wealth, red signifies love, green represents health, and black is associated with intimacy.

3. Chilean v. Mexican New Year's Traditions: Grapes or Lentils

Latino New Year's Traditions: eating twelve grapes
Latino New Year's Traditions: eating twelve grapes Freepik

A widely shared tradition around the world, including in Mexico, involves eating twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight. Supposedly, each grape corresponds to the chime of the bells that churches typically ring at midnight, symbolizing the months and the wishes you hope will come true in the upcoming year. In Chile, people traditionally consume lentils right as midnight approaches, a practice thought to bring about a successful start to the new year.

4. Uruguayan New Year's Traditions: 'El baldazo'

The term "baldazo" in Spanish refers to the act of throwing or pouring a bucket of water or any liquid over someone or something. If you find yourself in Montevideo or another city in Uruguay on New Year's Eve, be cautious, as it is customary for people to toss water from balconies and windows as a symbol to attract prosperity.

This tradition is rooted in the belief that the 'baldazo' helps dispel the sorrows of the ending year, ushering in renewed energies and prosperity for the upcoming one. In reality, for many people, especially children, it is more of a game than anything else.

5. Ecuadorian New Year's Traditions: Burning a Scarecrow

Similar to water, fire is thought to hold transformative power, and in many Latin American countries a prevalent custom involves the ceremonial burning of effigies crafted from diverse flammable materials, including old clothes, paper, or wood.

This tradition of burning figures is practiced in Nicaragua, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, and Argentina. In the northern regions of Chile, it is known as the 'Burning of Monkeys,' featuring substantial figures created from recycled paper and aged objects, symbolizing the challenges and negative experiences of the past year.

Ecuador's tradition, however, stands out. The "burning of the old year" entails setting fire to an effigy representing a notable figure, whether real or fictional, such as a politician or a movie character. Additionally, some men assume the role of women or 'the widows,' strolling through the streets mourning 'the old one,' a term used to refer to the effigy.

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