Each year, when the clock strikes midnight on December 31, countries throughout Latin America ring in the new year with unique traditions. Some cultures might call for taking a lap around the neighborhood with suitcases in tow, while others suggest munching on grapes to make their resolutions come true. Here are six Latino New Year’s Eve traditions that could bring you good luck.
In Latin America, and especially in Mexico, wearing colored underwear has become a popular New Year’s Eve tradition, as different colors are believed to determine what’s to come in the next 12 months. For those seeking love in 2022, red is the ideal color to wear. Yellow undies, on the other hand, symbolize money and wealth. Black is tied to power and control for those wanting to meet their goals next year. Other colored underwear are also worn, like blue for health and wellness, and green for adventures.
This one’s tasty and simple: Eat 12 grapes, each one representing a wish for the 12 months of the new year. The New Year’s Eve tradition originated in Spain and was brought over to Latin America more than a century ago. One theory suggests it’s an imitation of the Spanish bourgeoisie, who began the new year eating grapes; another dates the tradition to the vast 1909 grape harvest in the city of Alicante, in which merchants sold the idea of grape-eating on New Year’s Eve as a way of selling their produce. Either way, the grapes are meant to bring a year of good luck and prosperity.
The burning of the muñeco de Año Viejo, or the “Old Year doll,” is a tradition unique to Colombian culture. The doll, with its interior made of powder, newspapers, or old objects and an exterior made of old clothes, is supposed to represent the bad from the previous year—and sometimes even a political or public figure. At midnight the dolls are lit on fire, setting the old ablaze and making room for the new.
People say money comes and goes, but Latinos say otherwise. If you want money to come and never go in 2022, don’t start the year with empty pockets. Put bills and coins in your hands, pockets, and shoes to keep those paychecks and bonuses flowing in the new year. Some go the extra mile by using gold coins. Pro tip: Bills with high denominations are said to draw in more monetary abundance.
Travelers, this one’s for you. A number of Latin Americans head to the streets with their suitcases in hand as soon as the new year begins. According to this tradition, those who take their suitcases for a stroll at midnight will be rewarded with trips, vacations, and adventures in the coming 12 months. Some people believe that the longer the stroll around the block, the farther they’ll travel.
Another ritual that made its way to Latin America from Spain is eating lentil soup for prosperity. Lentils were among the first foods to be cultivated by humans, making them highly valued in ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Their round, flat surfaces resemble money, which is where the abundance and prosperity ideas come into play. Today, many Latinos have adopted this tradition in the hopes of making the new year even more prosperous than the last.