New Year’s in Spanish: Latino Traditions for Good Luck

New Year’s in Spanish: Latino Traditions for Good Luck

Inside: A round-up of traditions for New Year’s in Spanish.


When it comes to Hispanic New Year’s traditions, it’s all about bringing on the good luck. In most places, the partying begins on New Year’s Eve among family or friends, and most of the rituals take place at or around midnight. Then, the fiesta continues into the wee hours of the morning (along with plenty of fireworks to ring in the new year).


año nuevo

New Year’s in Spanish: 10 Good-Luck Traditions


As you’ll see, most of these traditions have to do with ways to make wishes for the year to come. Some of them are for the day of New Year’s Eve, and some must occur right at midnight. Read on to learn about these fascinating rituals across the Spanish-speaking world!


1.  Eating 12 Grapes at Midnight


año nuevo uvas

Many people eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight, making a wish for each grape eaten. They must be eaten quickly (as the bell tolls, or in the first minutes of the new year), which is quite the task as Spanish grapes have large seeds. This tradition originated in Spain, though Mexico and other Latin American countries do this one as well. Read more about origins of the lucky green grapes of Spain here.


2. Wearing Yellow Underwear


yellow underwear new year's eve


Believe it or not, this is a very strong superstition! The color yellow represents good luck in many Hispanic countries, so many people sport yellow underwear as the new year rings in. In many countries, yellow or white is the color of choice for clothing on New Year’s; while red underwear means romance awaits.


3. Walking Around the Block with Suitcases



For this one, people walk around the block or the house with a suitcase for traveling opportunities in the New Year. Perhaps after stuffing down grapes, lentils, and champagne, you grab the piece of luggage right after midnight and get moving.


4. Burning Muñecos


new year's in ecuador


In Ecuador and other places, people set up effigies (muñecos) after Christmas, and burn them for año nuevo. In some places, the doll is a generic form meant to represent the old year and burned as a way to say good-bye to the past. In other places, the effigies represent unpopular political figures, celebrities, or leaders.


5. Eating Lentils



At least in Chile, some people eat lentils right as the new year comes in, to usher in prosperity. Others eat it as a midday meal, saying that the round lentils resemble coins.


6. Holding Money at Midnight



Some people want to have money or coins (some insist on silver) in hand, as midnight strikes. This is also supposed to be good luck for a prosperous new year.


7. Drinking Champagne



As in many places, champagne is the drink of choice when welcoming the new year. The Latino twist is to drop a gold ring into your champagne glass, to bring in money. Fruit like strawberries or cherries is said to bring new love, or fidelity by a gold ring. Some say you must drink the entire glass and pull the object out, or it won’t work.


8. Cleaning the House



Cleaning the house thoroughly is an expression of “out with the old, in with the new.” Similar to burning muñecos, it symbolizes getting rid of the old year’s energies and welcoming in the next one, hopefully with good energy. Some people even put on only new clothes, to avoid bringing the past into the next year.


9. Throwing Water Out the Window



This is another ritual of throwing out the bad things from the past year, and starting the new year fresh. Some say that if the water falls on someone you don’t care for, bad luck will fall on them.


10. Standing on One Foot


latino new year traditions


Literally, this is a way to start the year “on the right foot.” As the clock strikes midnight– perhaps while stuffing down grapes– stand on your right foot!

Image credits:
Shutterstock / Sergarck
Shutterstock / Fotos593

What New Year’s in Spanish traditions did I miss? Let me know in the comments below.


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The 2017 Spanglish Family Holiday Gift Guide

The 2017 Spanglish Family Holiday Gift Guide

Inside: Spanish gift guide for Spanish/English-speaking kids and families. 

The holidays are quickly approaching, but if you’re like me, you still have people on your gift list!

If you need some ideas for a Spanglish friends and family still on your list, I’ve got you covered. Here are some fun ideas for meaningful and quality gifts. 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!


1. Coco-Inspired Lotería and Bingo


Disney Pixar Coco (Remember Me) A LOTERIA Game

How fun is this? Bingo/Lotería to go with the Coco craze, and bring Mexican culture into your home with these gorgeous designs. 


2. Spanish Edition of Scrabble


Scrabble Spanish

We are having lots of fun with this one right now! If you have a mix of English and Spanish speakers, you can always allow everyone to play in their native language.


3. T-shirts 


How about an adorable bilingual onesie? I think these are too cute:

Chiquitin Clothing on Etsy

I wanted to recommend the amazing Ellie Elote Store, but they are temporarily closed! Perhaps a Coco-themed shirt in the meantime:

Disney Coco Heathered T-Shirt for Girls Size S (5/6) Blue


5. Magnetic Poetry


Magnetic Poetry – Spanish Kit – Words for Refrigerator – Write Poems and Letters on the Fridge – Made in the USA

Keep Spanish on everyone’s mind with this fun magnetic set. Leave message for each other, learn some new words, and get creative with this gift. 


6. Music


Diez Deditos/ Ten Little Fingers

If it’s a family with younger kids, I can’t recommend Jose Luis Orozco highly enough!

andes gift

Of course I’m partial to anything Peruvian, but this is a great educational gift. The Ebook and CD from Daria’s Little Village Store teach about Quechua culture and life in the Andes.  


7. Coffee Mug


Funny Spanish Animal Coffee Mug by Crazy Cool Mugs | Como Te Llamas Language Joke, 11 Ounce White

Just yes please. 


8. DIY Map Ornament


peru ornament

You can make this for free! Decoupage maps onto an old ball ornament. (If you look up DIY decoupage ball ornament, there are tons of tutorials out there.) Use maps that hold significance: hometowns, places traveled to, etc. 


9. Map Gifts


Custom Wedding Couple 2 Heart Maps Art Print, UNFRAMED, Wedding gift, Personalized & Customized, Engagement Gift, Anniversary Gift, Valentines day gift, Housewarming gift

If you want to be creative, here’s a really thoughtful and personalized idea for a bicultural couple. Just give the hometown of each couple and order the print.  Jigsaw2order – Personalized Photo Jigsaw Puzzle with 504 pieces, 16x20in

Use a family photo, travel pictures, hometown pictures, or maps to make a customized puzzle. 


10. Bilingual or Authentic Spanish Books


It’s so hard to list just a few. Seriously. Browse my recommendations for 50 Bilingual Books in Spanish and English, or 50 Authentic Books in Spanish for Kids and see what I mean. 

But if I have to boil it down to my very favorites, I’ll do my best. If you want to be a really awesome gift-giver, think about giving a subscription to Spanish and English books via Booklandia or Sol Book Box.

Then your favorite Spanglish family can get something new to read/explore every month!

Here goes:

Board Books:

Loteria: First Words / Primeras Palabras (English and Spanish Edition)

With gorgeous images, these bilingual board books are perfect for small hands. They put even your littlest ones in touch with Latino culture and are sure to delight. 


¡Pío Peep!: Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes (Spanish Edition)

This collection has the best of traditional Spanish rhymes and songs, with beautiful illustrations on each page. It needs to be on every Spanglish family shelf for sure.  

Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever / El mejor libro de palabras de Richard Scarry (Richard Scarry’s Best Books Ever) (English, Multilingual and Spanish Edition)

Busy and curious preschoolers will love this pictionary from Richard Scarry. It’s great for families where both parents aren’t bilingual and want to learn along with their kids. 


Cuentos que contaban nuestras abuelas (Tales Our Abuelitas Told): Cuentos populares Hispánicos (Spanish Edition) 
Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy (1996) Paperback

I love anything by Alma Flor Ada, and this collection brings together classic Hispanic stories. 

Que Monton de Tamales (Too Many Tamales) (Spanish Edition) by Gary Soto, Ed Martinez

A Noche Buena story, this book is available in both Spanish and English. It’s a fun story with Latino culture, family, and food woven throughout.

Older Kids:

Secret of the Andes (Puffin Book)

Written in English, Secret of the Andes follows the story of a boy as he learns about his ancestors. (Sorry for another Peru-heavy suggestion!)

Adult Readers:

Arroz con Pollo and Apple Pie: Raising Bicultural Children

See my review of this wonderful book here. It’s a perfect read for bicultural parents with young or older children– challenging, heartwarming, and helpful. 

Hope this list was helpful! Don’t forget to sing up for my newsletter below for more Spanglish ideas and help. 

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