15 Curious Latino New Year's Eve Traditions

New Year's Eve rituals that are strange but true.

ByALEX ALVAREZ
December 27, 2012, 2:26 PM

Dec. 31, 2012— -- Sure, people from all over the world party on New Year's Eve, but folks across Latin America and Spain have a special set of traditions and rituals to ring in the new year.

While some of the traditions below are unique to specific countries, many are celebrated by various nations, as well as by Latinos here in the U.S.

From carefully coordinating your underwear to setting lots of stuff on fire (always fun, right?), these are some of our favorites.

1. Eating 12 Grapes: As the clock strikes midnight, people across various Spanish-speaking countries like Cuba and Spain make sure to eat 12 grapes -- one for good luck in each month of the new year.

2. Picking the Right Underwear: In many Latin American countries the underwear you wear on New Year's Eve has a big impact on your year ahead. Yellow underwear, for example, is thought to bring good luck or fortune in the new year. Red underwear, edible or otherwise, is worn for luck in love. Likewise, in many parts of the world, wearing black on New Year's Eve is thought to bring bad luck.

3. Walking in a Circle With a Suitcase: Looking to travel? Many believe that walking in a circle with a suitcase -- either around your home or around the block -- will bring jet-setting opportunities in the new year.

4. Burning Effigies: In Panama and Ecuador burning "muñecos" -- or effigies of people who played a big role in news, politics, or even one's personal life throughout the previous year -- is how some signify doing away with the old. The muñecos are displayed after Christmas and then burned in a bonfire. Cathartic, right?

5. Singing a Carol: In Colorado and New Mexico, it's tradition to sing a carol called "Dando los Dias" for neighbors all through the night and into January 1st. The singers are supposed to end up at the home of someone named Manuel. St. Emmanuel is the patron saint of new years, and "Emmanuel" is also another name for Jesus Christ.

6. Handling Some Silver: Holding silver at midnight is thought to bring fortune in various countries. Worth a try, right?

7. Wearing White: In Brazil wearing new, white underwear (or dressing completely in white) while jumping seven waves and/or placing flowers into the ocean is a way to inspire good luck and fortune.

8. Using Fireworks to Burn an Effigy:In Paraguay and Colombia some will create an effigy called the "Año Nuevo," then set it afire with fireworks at midnight to ward off bad luck in the new year.

9. Eating Lentils: In Chile, people eat lentils when the clock strikes midnight to ensure a prosperous new year.

10. Hanging a Lamb: In Mexico and other Latin American countries, it's customary to hang a wool toy lamb from your front door for good fortune.

11. A Good Sweep: In various Latin American countries many people are sure to clean and sweep their home to ensure they're "out with the old."

12. Throwing a Bucket of Water out a Window: In countries like Cuba, you can throw a bucket of water out of your door or window to signify renewal. Extra points if someone who slighted you in the last year is standing below. (Just kidding.) (Kind of.)

13. Shooting a Rifle: Shooting a rifle into the air in celebration is definitely NOT recommended, but something that most certainly happens in Miami's Latino neighborhoods.

14. Chilling in a Graveyard: Waiting for the New Year in a Chilean graveyard is one option, if you're not easily rattled. Why? To ring in the new year with their dearly departed.

15. Stashing Cash: In Ecuador, hiding money around the house is thought to bring prosperity. At the very least, if you've forgotten where you've hidden your cash and end up finding it again a few months down the road, it's like getting free money.

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