9 Chilean Traditions for a Happy New Year

Chilean New Years Traditions © M Snook T 2010While my family in the northern hemisphere is either hunkering down for a quiet evening at home or trying to figure out how to combine New Years’ finery with boots and gloves and snow shovels and ice scrapers, I am happy to report that here in Santiago the sun is shining, it’s 27º (Celsius! that’s 80ºF to the rest of you) at 6:30 in the evening, and we have a nice night ahead with family and friends, complete with a bit of fireworks at midnight.

For more on typical Chilean New Year’s celebrations see Happy New Year a la Chilena, but read on to brush up on the fun list of traditions (some might cal them superstitions, but let’s not go there)…
Have a fun–and safe–evening everyone and ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

Chilean New Year’s Traditions:

Holiday greeting cards usually wish people a Prosperous New Year, and there are many New Years Eve traditions associated with attracting wealth in the coming year.

Lucrative Lentils: eating lentils on New Year’s Eve ensures prosperity in the coming year.

12 Grapes: people eat a dozen grapes–one for each month of the year–to bring good economic fortune… hmmm- with the dour predictions for the coming year, maybe we should have doubled the prescription!

Golden Toasts: not bread–place a gold ring in your bubbly for a prosperous new year… unless of course you choke on it and start the year with a large hospital bill!

Wheat for Abundance: ribbon-wrapped sprigs of wheat are commonly sold on the streets of Santiago at Christmas time and some people distribute them to each guest at midnight on New Year’s Eve to bring abundance.

Shoe Money: stick a luca (a $1000 peso bill) in your shoe before midnight and it will multiply in the coming year (it may even get a better rate than the banks do these days!)

But it’s not all about money, of course. Love, luck, and travel are also high on the wish list!

Yellow undies: looking to add some romance to your life? Be sure to wear your yellow panties on New Year’s Eve!

Undies inside out: clothes horses turn their underwear inside out to ensure a well-stocked closet in the coming year… make them yellow and get a “twofer” (would that be a well-dressed lover? Or maybe your well-dressed lover comes out of the closet?). Some people say they should be turned right-side-out after midnight for happiness. Others say this works best if the underwear is a gift.

Lugging the Luggage: feeling a bit of wanderlust? Make your dreams come true by taking your favorite suitcase for a walk around the block…

Burning the bad: this fun and even emotional ceremony requires tying a life-sized stuffed dummy to a stake and shortly after midnight, all the participants write something they want to change in the coming year, attach it to the dummy, which is then set it on fire. The bad things in your life go up in flames!


8 responses to “9 Chilean Traditions for a Happy New Year

  1. Pingback: A Traditional and Honorable New Year | Coaching Leaders

  2. I try 12 Grapes i hope is true.Thank for sharing.

  3. Pingback: Let’s Call it a Year | Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

  4. Haha, I’m ashamed that a foreigner know about these silly chilean traditions. There’s another: If you want good luck in love for the rest of the new year, your first new year’s hug must be to someone of the opposite sex.

  5. Aaaah! Why? These are fun traditions! (and in the end, who cares if they’re true or not?) But good to know about who to hug for love!

  6. My first Chilean New Year this year. Great fun.
    A hug and a kiss from the ladies at midnight. OK so far. A handshake and a hug from the men and then another handshake which would have been totally unexpected had I not been forewarned!
    Plus 3 year old Amber didn’t stop at 12 grapes like the rest of us. She is now graped up until 2015 at least.

    Belated Happy New Year.

  7. Glad you enjoyed! You still here?

  8. Came home early January. Missing the sunshine and fed up of scraping ice of cars.

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