New Year’s Eve traditions in Latin America

| Anke Hendriks

Have you made your plans for New Year's Eve yet? Chances are you'll be celebrating the New Year with friends and family. In one hand a glass of champagne and in the other a delicious Oliebol (fried dough ball), looking at the beautiful fireworks that colour the dark night. Completely in accordance with Dutch traditions. Also in Latin America New Year’s Eve are celebrated big, but with their own, sometimes a bit strange traditions. For a little bit of New Year’s Eve fun we have listed 5 traditions for you.

Coloured underwear

Whereas in the Netherlands we only have to worry about a festive outfit, in Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil, among others, it is also important what colour underwear you wear. The colour of the underwear will have an influence on the coming year. Do you want happiness in love? Then you should wear red underwear. For financial prosperity yellow is the right colour. Do you want more peace? Then choose white.

12 grapes

Just before every midnight turn of the bell, one grape is eaten in Chile and Peru. Each grape represents one month of the year. In some countries, such as Chile, they believe that a sweet grape guarantees a good month and a sour grape a bad month. In other countries, such as Peru and Mexico, one can make a wish with each grape. However, all grapes must be finished in the first minute of the new year, otherwise the wishes will not come true.

Burning dolls

In Colombia, Nicaragua and Panama, among others, it is customary to make life-sized dolls and put them by the side of the road. Family and friends can provide the dolls with messages about last year that they would like to forget. At 12 o'clock the dolls are set on fire to leave behind all the negative and attract the positive for next year.

A year full of beautiful journeys

As far as we are concerned, this is not only the most beautiful tradition in Latin America, but the most beautiful New Year tradition in the whole world! Those who are hoping for a year with many and beautiful trips in the coming year, pack their suitcase at midnight and walk around the house with it. No suitcase means no trip. So you have been warned.

Swinging into the new year

Finally, a beautiful festive tradition from the Caribbean. Arubans bring the best wishes to each other in a, how could it be otherwise, musical and swinging way. Between Christmas and New Year groups of singers and musicians go to the streets. These groups call themselves Dande, which in Papiamento means enjoying and having fun. On traditional instruments, such as the Wiri, the Tambu and the Raspa and with a traditional song, the groups visit family and friends to wish everyone the best for the coming year. So in the Caribbean they literally swing into the new year!

What are your New Years’ Eve traditions?

Do you have a nice tradition during New Years’ Eve yourself? Or do you want to celebrate it like one of the traditions above? In any case, I will make sure that I have my suitcase with me on December 31st!

Would you like to know more about Latin America and travelling with Sapa Pana Travel? Then look around on our website or contact us directly. Call +31 73 610 62 04 or send an email to We are happy to help.

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