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New Year's Eve Traditions & Superstitions: Latino Rituals to Guarantee a Prosperous 2013

Carolina Moreno - The Huffington Post
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December 31, 2012
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On New Year's Eve, Brazilian worshippers of Yemanja celebrate the diety, offerings flowers and launching boats, large and small, into the ocean in exchange for blessings in the new year. The belief in the goddess comes from the African Yoruban religion brought to America by West African slaves. (AP/Victor R. Caivano)

It's time say good-bye to 2012!

But oh, if only it were that simple. With almost two dozen New Year's Eve traditions, Latinos not only bid farewell to another year gone by but make sure the next one will be even better.

From wish-granting grapes to peeled potatoes under your bed, from burning rag dolls right down to the color of your underwear - there's nothing that says 'so long 2012 and good riddance' like these New Year's Eve rituals and superstitions.

So pop the champagne and let's toast (don't forget that gold ring!) to a happier, more prosperous, and loving 2013!

Wear Red Or Yellow Panties
Your future happiness and love life may very well depend on your panties!

But don't go and get them all up in a bunch. Just remember that before you frantically go in search of THE outfit to welcome the New Year, what you should really be focusing on is what's underneath. (And we're not talking about your good heart) Hit the mall and get yourself some new underwear! On New Year's Eve wear red panties to guarantee passion and love in 2013, or yellow underwear to help bring money and happiness into your life.

If you're bold, wear both!

Clean Your House For A Fresh Start
If you thought you could wait until the Spring to give your home a good clean...think again.

On December 31, scrub down your house and throw out any trash (yes, even those unread magazine's you've been hoarding) to cleanse your home from any negativity and to attract positive energy into your life. While not many would like to spend the morning of New Year's Eve mopping the bathroom floors, this ritual will help you get a fresh start in 2013!

Write A 2013 Wish List
A lista de deseos should be your roadmap in the coming year!

Similar to the widely practiced tradition of making a list of "New Year's Resolutions," a lista de deseos (wish list) for the new year should include all those goals you're hoping to reach in 2013 AND those less tangible wishes like "Finding The One" or "World Peace." Whatever it is that you put on your list make sure to also write how you plan to meet those goals or help realize those dreams.

Then, fold it in half and after the clock strikes twelve read it to yourself. Keep it and refer back to it throughout the year!

12 New Months, 12 Wishes, 12 Grapes
As you prepare to countdown to 2013, make sure you have a plate of grapes close by.

But this is no midnight snack. Before (or during) the hugs and kisses that ensue after the New Year begins, make sure to eat 12 grapes - representing the 12 months of the new year - while making a wish for every month/grape that you have.

But beware! Get a sour grape and that could mean a bad month is in store for you. Also, many believe the grapes MUST be consumed within the first 12 minutes of the new year--or else!

Run Around The Block With Luggage
Exotic beaches, snowcapped mountains, and century-old monuments await you--around the corner.

That's right. If travel is what you're looking for in 2013 all you have to do is run around your block (or up and down your stairs) with your luggage in hand. But be careful, empty bags won't get you far. Also you should pack objects that represent the type of locations you'd like to visit. Place swim trunks in your luggage if you'd like to travel to the beach, a passport if you want to go abroad, or ski gear if you want to hit the slopes.

Money In Hand When The Clock Hits 12!
If you want to make it rain in 2013, than you might as well start the year off with some cash in hand.

So before the clock strikes twelve put your drink down and grab some bills (preferably from your own wallet). Having money in your hand at midnight is meant to ensure economic prosperity in the new year.

Keep in mind that holding a $100 bill will give you better results than a $1 bill!

Sweep Out The Negative Energy
Sweep it out!

If 2012 brought you nothing but problems, suffering, tears, etc then it's time to sweep it all out of your home - and your life. On New Year's Eve simply take a broom to the front door and start sweeping towards the street. This ritual should rid you of all the negativity you've harbored throughout the year.

Burn The Bad
Burn Baby Burn!

Nothing says putting the bad behind you like taking a match to it - right? While many will be focusing on all the dreams and goals they hope to fulfill in 2013, it's important to make sure all the bad stays in the past.

Before midnight, take some time to write everything you'd like to forget from 2012 and then simply burn it up. Once you've buried the past you'll be ready to take on the new year without all that dead weight on your shoulders!

The Drink Of Wealth
"I'll have my drink on the rocks... err make that with a ring."

For a little more financial luck in 2013 simply take a gold ring and drop it in the drink you plan to toast with. Gold means riches, so make sure that whatever ring you use is real!

Just A Spoonful Of... Lentils
Nothing fills the stomach - and the wallet - like a spoonful of lentils.

The grain is widely used in all sort of rituals in Latin America to attain economic abundance. In this tradition that originated in Italy, eating lentils throughout the last day of the year, or a spoonful immediately at the beginning of the new year, will guarantee that the next year will be filled with riches!

Light A Candle
It's time to set the mood... for 2013.

Candles on New Year's Eve can help make the new year prosperous and positive. Lighting a green candle will bring you good health while a yellow candle will help your financial troubles. For those looking for some wisdom, an orange candle should be lit while a blue one will bring you peace and a red candle passion or love.

So light up the night this 31st!

Wear Your Underwear Inside Out Until After Midnight!
Fashionistas, this one's for you!

For all those who laughed at you for accidentally putting on your undies inside out... well, let's just say it's time for you to get the last laugh. Wearing your underwear backwards on New Year's Eve and fixing it during the first few minutes of the new year will guarantee plenty of new clothes in 2013!

End The Year With A Splash
For many Latinos, 'moving on' isn't necessarily water under the bridge... in fact it's more like throwing a bucket of water out of a window.

In this New Year's Eve ritual water symbolizes all of the suffering and tears you'd like to get rid off before the start of 2013. Whether it's a glass or a bucket full of water, splashing your woes out on the street can be the best way to put the past behind you!

Just make sure no one is walking by when you're "moving on"...

A Lover's Portrait With A Red Ribbon Under Your Pillow
But rituals aren't just for those who want to forget - sometimes it's for those who simply can't let go.

Lovebirds not willing to call it quits with a former flame, or who are simply desperate to catch a certain someone's attention in the new year, must take their lover's photograph and tie a red ribbon around it. On the last night of the year, simply sleep with the picture under your pillow to secure your lover's devotion!

A Bright House For A Bright Year!
Flip the switch, the future is bright!

Nothing says clarity and prosperity like light, so many Latinos make it a point to welcome the new year by having all of the lights in the house on. Turn them on just minutes before the clock strikes 12, but don't leave them on too long or the first gift in the new year will be a hefty electricity bill!

Wear White For Peace And Health
No white after labor day? Maybe just this once...

Wearing white on New Year's Eve is said to bring you good health and internal peace in the new year. The color is also known to absorb positive energy.

Start Off On The RIGHT foot
There's nothing like starting the year off on the right foot... literally.

As you're counting down the final seconds of 2012, making sure only your right foot is firmly on the ground can bring you good luck in 2013. If you ever see someone doing a flamingo stance just at the new year arrives, then it's likely they are keen to this New Year's Eve superstition.

Sit And Stand. Repeat Three Times For Results
Turn those midnight chimes into wedding bells!

As the new year begins, those who are looking to marry, or simply find that special someone, in 2013 must sit and stand three times to get their wish fulfilled.

Ironically, this behavior may scare away potential suitors or prospective girlfriends around you... so keep it subtle.

A Handful Of Lentils In Your Handbag
Because you can't get enough of lentils...

If it wasn't enough to consume copious amounts throughout New Year's Eve, take a half a handful of (uncooked!) lentils and drop them in your purse, murse, backpack, etc. Keep them in there year around and money won't be a problem in 2013!

Burn The Old-Year (Rag Doll)
When burning paper isn't enough, try a life-size doll...

In many countries in Latin America large life-sized rag dolls are created with... really whatever you can find. This doll is known as the "Old Year" and on the night of New Year's Eve it's tradition to burn the doll to symbolically purify yourself and be rid of all the negativity that the old year brought you.

WARNING: While symbolically meaningful, we recommend not burning any life-size rag dolls inside your home or yard... fire safety first!

Pick The Right Potato
In Colombia, on the night of the 31st, its a tradition for many to throw three potatoes underneath the bed: one not peeled, one half peeled, and one completely peeled ("pelado"). Without looking, you must reach underneath and grab the first potato you bump into. Colloquially, if someone is "pelado" this means they are financially "broke."

Thus, if you grab the potato that is completely peeled you will find financial hardship in 2013, half peeled means some economic troubles ahead, while a potato that's not peeled can mean money is in your future!


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