At midnight, fireworks and smoke fill the sky as thousands of people take to the street and light off their own fireworks. Everyone hugs and wishes each other a happy New Year, and after that, they begin to feast. First, Peruvians eat 12 grapes; each grape represents one month and one wish that you make.
Peruvian New Year’s Eve Customs and Traditions
All these local customs are supposed to bring good luck or fortune for the upcoming year. As one can never have enough of these, try out the one or other to start your New Year on a good footing.
Wearing new clothes, especially underwear, goes hand in hand with wearing a specific color which signifies your desires for the New Year. So in the local markets countless vendors sell new underwear to accommodate this tradition. Yellow is the most popular color and is supposed to bring luck and happiness, red is for love, white for health and fertility, and green for money and wealth.
It is as well custom to decorate the house with yellow flowers and have yellow paper streamers and yellow confetti all around the house, which is believed to bring good luck. Scattering rice around the house is believed to bring luck and prosperity in the upcoming year.
In many households three potatoes are placed under a chair: one peeled, one only partially peeled, and the last one unpeeled. When the clock strikes twelve, one is chosen without looking, which predicts the financial situation in the upcoming year. Having picked the peeled potato signifies a financially poor year, the partially peeled one brings a normal year and the one with the skin means lots of money.
At midnight it is custom to eat twelve grapes, one for each month to come; while quickly eating one grape after the other and making a secret wish you have to say the name of each month. Dropping a grape or not getting the month’s name out correctly means bad luck for that month, and the wish for that particular month won’t come true. Sometimes a thirteen’s grape is eaten to seal the deal.
It is also common to write down five wishes, each on one piece of paper, and dip the papers into a glass of champagne. And voila, they are coming true.
Those wanting to travel or aiming for good luck while traveling, run around the block with an empty suitcase or backpack.
If you need more money, just place coins in the shoes you wear on New Year’s Eve and you might get a pay raise or come by some money.
Quite common as well is dressing a large doll (best filled with firecrackers) in old clothes and burning it. This gets rid of the old year and paves the way for the new.
By throwing twelve coins over your shoulder into the street on New Year’s Eve, you get rid of any financial misfortune of the previous year. Picking up twelve coins (not your own) will bring you luck and prosperity.
And last but not least, a visit to a shaman might free you from evil spirits after being sprayed with a chamomile bath and ensures a good and prosperous New Year.