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New Year's Eve Brazilian style

by Fernanda Meneguetti {Journalist}



White, fireworks and waves. In Brazil, a number of traditions are associated with New Year, but there are none more popular than wearing white, watching a fireworks display and, if you are on the coast, jumping seven waves. As you can imagine, the explanations behind them are not very scientific, but they range from demonstrations of joy for the starting of a new cycle to the quest for prosperity, love and peace.

Not religious, not even a little superstitious? No problem. If you find yourself in these tropical parts, you will inevitably succumb to the energy and mood of the season. After all, attracting a little luck never hurt anyone, did it? Just follow these half-dozen Brazilian rituals – which, legend has it, never fail!


1. Wear white

It’s already started: the shop windows are full of white shirts, trousers, dresses and t-shirts. The colour that symbolizes peace is mandatory in African tribal rituals. It was popularised by candomblé and became essential at New Year's Eve as a way to cleanse the spirit, renew energies and to ward off the evil eye. According to religious custom, as well as white clothes, many people offer gifts to Yemoja, the queen of the waters.

To give thanks for your achievements and to make further requests, just appease the vain orisha spirit by throwing perfumes, soaps, mirrors and flowers into the sea. This affectionate gesture, which is not very ecologically sound, occurs particularly in Bahia and Rio de Janeiro - which forces the local councils to adopt special clean-up policies and sometimes suggest specific places and times for the offerings.

2. Jump seven waves

No, this is not a children's game. On any Brazilian beach, after watching the fireworks (there is nowhere as spectacular as Copacabana, where the PortoBay Rio de Janeiro is located) and listening to the clock strike twelve on 31 December, it's time to run into the sea, clothes and all, and jump around. Each time you jump a wave, make a wish and, after the seventh jump, return to the beach, without turning your back on the sea.

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3. Eat for prosperity

Is 2023 the year to seek wealth? More superstitious people believe that eating pomegranates on New Year's Eve will bring you money. The seeds should not be chewed, but wrapped in white paper. Then, on Twelfth Night, they need to be kept in your wallet. Sound complicated? You can also eat 12 grapes, one every minute of the 12 minutes before midnight. And a few spoonfuls of lentils also brings luck.

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4. Invest in some lingerie

Wearing white, as mentioned above, is a must. But not the only one!! Brand-new underwear should also be part of your outfit. Each different colour of underwear is important: white brings calm, pink attracts love and red passion, yellow brings money, green cultivates hope and blue symbolizes success. A true Brazilian makes a tactical choice to influence the New Year.


5. Avoid birds

Turkey, chicken roll and chicken salad are exclusively Christmas dishes. For those who don't know, these birds scratch the earth backwards - including them in your New Year's Eve dinner may mean moving backwards in life! Eat a turkey leg and your New Year plans may be set back. So, it’s best not to take the risk, and have pork or fish instead. Always washed down with a glass of sparkling wine. Brazilian vintages have won awards around the world and, if drunk within the first minute of the year, will bring you success for every second of the next 12 months.


6. Turn over a new leaf

Throughout history, and especially in the Middle Ages, the garlands of the laurel tree have symbolised good fortune. So, on New Year's Eve, Brazilians continue the tradition of putting a bay leaf into their wallets next to a banknote and keeping it there until the next 31 December. Then on this day, people give the banknote to someone and throw the leaf into the sea or a river.

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