How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve? Do you follow any kind of ritual to guarantee peace, love and happiness for the year to come? Would you like to try one of the 7 Brazilian traditions on New Year’s Eve?
Saying that Rio and its famous Copacabana beach are among the most popular New Year’s destinations is pointless.
Almost everybody in the world has heard about it, and thousands of tourists join the party every year.
However, what many people have no idea about is that New Year’s Eve celebrations are surrounded by mysticism, beliefs and traditions.
Some of them may sound a little bit funny, especially for those with a less religious background.
Nevertheless, some of the so-called rituals are absolutely fun and delightful. Especially for those looking for new experiences.
After all, it is the beginning of a new year. So, why not try something innovative? Why not dive into another culture’s traditions? Why not, as Brazilians would say, “start the year with your right foot?”
So, let’s talk about some tips to go deep into the party and make sure that you celebrate New Year’s in the Brazilian way!
1 – Dress in White
Although it’s not mandatory, white is the base outfit. Wherever you go, from a sand beach to a fancy party in a penthouse, 99.9% of people will be wearing something white.
The tradition to dress in white comes from African tribes as a way to purify the soul and bring peace to you.
If you don’t fancy white, just dress light colors or a white accessory. DO NOT dress in BLACK as it will bring you bad luck for the year.
2 – Choose the underwear to fit your wish for the New Year
Even if you are not a strong believer, your underwear will say a lot of your expectations! However, whatever the color you choose, make sure to wear a brand new piece!
Pick GREEN for good luck and hope. YELLOW, for money and prosperity. PINK, for love. BLUE, for success. And if you want passion in your life, stick to the RED!
3 – Please the Goddess of the Sea
One of the reasons why the beaches are so crowded on the 31st is because many people pay homage to Yemanjá (Iemanjá, in Portuguese), the major water deity from the African religions.
There are many ways to pay respect, ask for protection, make a wish or simply show gratitude to the Queen of the Ocean.
People usually light candles and leave white flowers on the sand while making their prayers.
Some set little wooden boats on the ocean full of gifts, so they can be carried away by the waves. The mother of all the “orishas” loves perfumes, necklaces, mirrors and anything related to beauty.
4 – Be prepared to jump seven waves at midnight
This is another tradition brought by the Africans and it complements the previous one: to please Yemanjá.
But why seven waves? Because seven is a spiritual number which will appear in many other beliefs and traditions. There are various explanations for this, but I don’t intend to go deep into them.
So, every time you jump a wave in this evening, you evoke the goddess of the sea. So, every jump is an opportunity to make a wish, ask for protection or simply say thanks to something you’ve achieved during the previous year.
Even if you’re not a strong believer, jumping the waves will be fun! And who knows? When I decided to jump some slopes, rather than seven waves, I fell and torn the ligament of my left knee. I told the story in another post.
Anyway, when you go out of the water, don’t forget to walk backwards facing the sea. You can only turn your back to it again when your feet have completely touched the sand.
5 – Toast with Champagne
The party to celebrate the beginning of a new year starts pretty early on Dec. 31st and people usually get together and drink all day long. Beer and caipirinha are the most appreciated drinks.
They blend perfectly with hot sunny days.
However, you should keep a bottle of champagne to uncork first thing at midnight. Cheers!
6 – Eat some Lentils
People usually feast after midnight. Many kinds of special food are prepared to celebrate the occasion.
However, some not so fancy ingredients are used to guarantee luck and prosperity for the New Year. Lentils are among them.
The funny thing is that if you don’t follow the “methodology” strictly, eating them will be pointless.
Prepare the lentils the way which suits you best. Eating is what requires some “techniques”. You can’t touch the floor while eating your lentils.
In order to do it properly, you must climb something high: a chair, a stool, a ladder etc. Then, you eat 7 spoons of lentils to make sure you’ll have abundance for the whole year.
7 – Do not eat turkey, chicken or any kind of birds
Forgive me, my vegan friends! Let’s talk seriously about meat. If you are the kind of person who thinks a meal is only complete with a portion of meat, be sure to pick the right one. Turkeys, chicken or any kind of birds are completely forbidden in this special supper.
As the birds scratch at the floor, so shall your life be stuck if you eat them. Nothing will move forward.
So, if you don’t want to take your chances, eat pork, beef or fish. The latter is the best, as it brings prosperity. In my family, as in many others in Brazil, we choose codfish as the main dish.
Other Brazilian Traditions on New Year’s Eve
Needless to say, Brazil is a huge country whose traditions and beliefs vary from place to place. There are many other traditions I didn’t talk about. The reason I only decided to mention seven of them is because I wanted to keep the lucky number.
If you heard about or decided to follow another one, feel free to leave a comment and add it to the list. I would love to know about your experiences. Especially, if you are a foreigner visiting or living here.
And if you are a little bit skeptical of all these Brazilian traditions on New Year’s Eve, that’s also okay. There is one thing everybody will agree for this evening: HAVE FUN!
Enjoy all you can do until dawn, wherever you are…
- Count down to the New Year out loud.
- Watch the fireworks.
- Toast with champagne.
- Hug your beloved ones.
- Kiss the love of your life.
- Smile to strangers.
- Have a copious meal with your family or friends.
- Be drunk.
- Have a hangover the next morning.
- Laugh about what you remember from last night.
- Be prepared for the second round of celebrations on the 1st of January!
- Oh, yes… we keep celebrating… and drinking… and eating!
- Have peace and joy for the rest of the year! Happy 2022!!!