New Year's Traditions in Latin America - Cesar Vallejo College

New Year Traditions in Latin America

New Year Traditions

The year is over, and there’s nothing more interesting than learning about New Year’s traditions in Latin America. We may have our superstitions about what to do on New Year, but these traditions are embedded in the culture. Latin America’s culture is rich in music, food, dance and partying.

12 Grapes

This one may not come to a surprise to many as this tradition dates back to Spanish roots. The idea is as the clock strikes midnight each person eats the 12 grapes as a token of good luck in each month. In some countries they believe in making a wish with each grape so they’ll be granted 12 wishes in the year.

Colored Underwear

Our next tradition is a little intimate. Yes, in many South American countries they believe in wearing different colored underwear as good luck. The colors are not random. Each color has a meaning, for example yellow underwear means fortune and prosperity. On the other hand if you are looking for love then your choice is red. If you generally want to be happy the next year, choose pink underwear. If you’re superstitious stay away from wearing all black on New Year’s Eve.

Walk around the Neighborhood with a Suitcase

If you’re looking for a year full of traveling then this next tradition might interest you. In Colombia and Venezuela it is thought that if you pack a suitcase and take a stroll around the neighborhood at midnight, then that year you will have many trips to take. It may sound a little far fetched but it might be worth a shot.

Burn the Old Year

In many Latin countries this tradition is shared. What it consists of is burning an effigy “muñeco de año viejo”. In some countries these effigies are of famous people, politicians, or even of themselves. The idea is to let go of everything bad that happened the last year in order to make way for new opportunities in the new year. Actually, in some countries they stuff the effigy with fireworks which leads to a nice surprise at midnight.


Lentils are a big part of New Year’s traditions in Latin America. Whether pocketing them or eating them they are a food that brings good fortune in the coming year. Across the continent you may find people eating a lentil soup at midnight or perhaps keeping uncooked lentils in their pocket for safe keeping. In Chile and Venezuela they wrap 12 lentils in a paper bill as a token of prosperity for the next year.

No matter where you are in the world there are traditions for the New Year. However the New Year’s traditions in Latin America are fun and harmless and look to bring you good luck in the upcoming year. Which of these rituals would you try? Let us know in the comment section of our Facebook page. We have open enrollment, click here for more information. Happy New Year!

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