New Year‘s Eve is a monumental time in all parts of the world, however as always, Brazil celebrates it in its own unique and spectacular manner. Millions of people descend on Brazil and especially Rio de Janeiro for New Year’s Eve and it is an incredible and spiritual experience that is steeped in tradition and celebration.
Perhaps one of the most interesting parts to New Year’s Eve is experiencing the different cultures, nationalities and traditions coming together to create one unforgettable atmosphere and event to welcome in the start of the New Year.
From a tantalizing show of culture in an unbeatable setting to eye-catching fireworks and welcoming in the New Year with over 2 million people; here’s your guide to traditions on New Year’s in Brazil and one of the world’s most spectacular ways to celebrate New Year.
♦ Spiritual offerings to the Queen of the Ocean
On New Year’s Eve in Rio, you’ll see a woman rising out of the ocean, portraying the Queen of the Ocean, Goddess Iemanjá. Surrounded by the bustle of 2 million people, the explosion of fireworks overhead and the rhythms of samba music, perhaps the most beautiful part of the celebrations is the quietest. Watch as locals go to the ocean’s edge and throw white flowers and send candles floating out into the ocean as offerings to the Ocean Goddess. These offerings are made in hope that Iemanjá will grant their New Year’s wishes. As the controller of the ocean’s waves, if your offering comes back to you, take this as a sign that she is not pleased and will not be granting your wish. To get around this problem, you will often see Brazilians send out their offerings in small toy boats to better ensure that Iemanjá will accept their offerings. This is one of the most stunning sights in Brazil, as you watch this important spiritual tradition take place with thousands of flowers and candles floating out into the ocean.
♦ On New Year’s in Brazil don’t forget to wear all white
Spending New Year’s in Brazil is one of the best decisions you can make and the celebrations in Rio attract people from all over the world looking to soak up the sun, beaches and luxurious beachfront hotels. Stand out for all the right reasons in Rio by making sure to wear all white on New Year’s Eve. To welcome in the New Year, Brazilian culture dictates for everyone to wear white as a sign of peace and prosperity. However, the colorful Brazilian culture means that many fashionable locals add their own twist to their white attire with colored accessories and swimwear to represent their New Year’s resolutions. So that you are in the know of what the different colors mean; use white for peace, green for good health, yellow for money, red for romance and purple for inspiration.
♦ Reveling in Rio’s Reveillons
Reveillons are massive New Year’s Eve celebrations where tradition and partying go hand in hand on Rio’s iconic Copacabana Beach. With a record 2.3 million people celebrating the 2013 New Year, this is perhaps one of the largest beach parties and New Year’s Eve events in the world and is only second to Carnival for the largest in Brazil! Extending for about 3 miles along the golden sands and coast of Copacabana, the celebrations can start as early as 6PM on the 31st December and often continue until sunrise on the 1st January. You can expect to witness a lively, colorful and vibrant Carnival atmosphere with outside concerts, samba dancing, bars, mind-blowing fireworks and an eclectic mix of international travelers and locals.
♦ Lucky number seven
Seven is the magic number on New Year’s Eve in Brazil and a ritual is to chew 7 pomegranate seeds at the stroke of midnight without swallowing them. Make sure to preserve them in your wallet as it is said that it will ensure that it will be full of money in the New Year. You can also get your seven New Year’s wishes with seven jumps over seven waves. In honor of Iemanjá, when the fireworks display is over, follow the crowd to the water’s edge and jump seven waves making a wish with each one. Rio and life in Brazil are tied to the ocean so as you leave the waves, make sure not to look back as it is believed that this can anger Iemanjá and that’s the last thing you would want to do.
♦ Eating your way into the New Year
What you eat on New Year is considered in Brazilian culture as a reflection on the up-coming 12 months. Therefore you should seek out food in Brazil that is believed to give you the most success and luck. Lentils are said to increase your luck and as an added bonus they’re very nutritious. Eating pork on New Year’s is considered to provide you will a full pantry throughout the New Year. You’ll want to keep away from turkey and crab unless you are seeking a year of bad luck according to traditional Brazilian culture. Finally and rather luckily, you should keep to the champagne on New Year’s Eve as it is considered to keep you energized throughout the year ahead, although on New Year’s Day you may feel otherwise!
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