December 31, 2007

Peruvian New Year's Traditions and Superstitions
Lima, Peru

I'm absolutely amazed with the sheer number of New Year's traditions and superstitions that seem to be practiced in Peru. This New Year's Eve, any number of Peruvians can be found ushering in 2008 by engaging in some of these kooky behaviors, mostly intended to bring luck:

  • Eating twelve grapes under the table at midnight, saying the name of each month as they are consumed rapidly. Slipping up or dropping a grape forecasts bad luck for that particular month. A thirteenth grape must be eaten to assure good luck.
  • Placing three potatoes under their chair or sofa—one peeled, on partially peeled, and one with its skin. At midnight, a potato is chosen (without looking), which will forecast what type of financial year they will have. The potato with no skin means no money, partially skinned means a regular year, and a potato with a full skin means lots of money.
  • Running around the block with an empty suitcase, briefcase, or backpack to travel, or have good luck traveling in the year to come.
  • Writing down five wishes and dipping it in a glass of champagne.
  • Running around the block backwards.
  • Running up and down flights of stairs.
  • Throwing a handful of lentils onto the curb.
  • Throwing twelve coins or cents over their shoulder and onto the curb or street. This represents throwing out the poverty of the previous year. It is lucky to pick up twelve coins (not your own) on New Year's Day.
  • Distributing rice around the house, which is intended to bring money, luck, and possibly fertility.
  • Placing coins inside their shoes, and then wearing them. This is supposed to get you a raise or more money in the New Year.
  • Dropping gold (jewelry) into a glass of champagne, then drinking from the glass.
  • Making sure that all the men cross the threshold into the home first, from the street. If a woman does this first it will be a bad year.
  • Lighting fireworks or shooting firearms into the air.
  • Placing beans into their pockets at midnight, and wishing for money whilst doing so.
  • Leaving the door open for a while to welcome in the New Year into their house.
  • Visiting shamans in Northern Peru who promise to ward off all the evil spirits with some sort of chamomile bath. Folks get completely naked and then the shaman sprays water on them—from out of his mouth.
  • Participating in a tradition known as baño de flores (a bath of flowers). Depending on what they are wishing for, they fill a basin with water and flowers of a certain color (roses for love, for example) and will bathe using this combination of water and flowers.
  • Dressing up a large doll or effigy (sometimes stuffed with fireworks) with old clothes and burning it on the street. This signifies getting rid of the old, and making a new start.
  • Lighting colored candles.
  • Wearing new clothes—typically underwear. This typically goes hand-in-hand with wearing specific colors that represent something you desire in the upcoming year: Yellow for luck and happiness, green for money, red for love, and white for health or fertility.

An Explosion of Yellow

Thailand does yellow/gold year-round, but Lima, Peru comes alive with the color for New Year's Eve. Everyone and everything is absolutely saturated in it. Wearing yellow underwear is a particularly strong tradition, and I've even been given a new pair of yellow boxers to wear this evening (with a " Stripper ♂ " repeating around the waistline).

These are some photos (and a video) I took this evening, while out shopping for ingredients to make a large batch of pisco sour tonight:


(video link)

Happy New Year's Eve and 2008, all!

Comments:

The United States

Anonymous

September 26th, 2010

Hello, just submitting a comment to thank you for sharing this nice info. My mother is peruvian and I wanted to know more about my culture's supersitions. This has been helpful to me. Thanks nd have a good day.

The United States

Lauren

March 29th, 2011

where did you get this information? just wondering, im doing a project on new year traditions.

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

March 29th, 2011

@Lauren - My wife's Peruvian; it came from her & her family.

The United States

VIA

December 30th, 2011

THIS IS AWESOME, I KNOW THIS IS FROM A FEW YEARS AGO , BUT MY FAMILY IS PERUVIAN AND I LOVED EVERY SINGLE THING ABOUT YOUR ARTICLE!! HAPPY NEW YEAR

Peru

Rob Webber

December 31st, 2011

I have another tradition that is practiced in Peru, much to my amusement on observation: families running around their block with suitcases, in the hopes of a holiday during the coming year. This is particularly true in poorer areas, where money is scarce, but dreams are abundant.

The United States

Craig | travelvice.com

December 31st, 2011

@Rob — that one's up there:

"Running around the block with an empty suitcase, briefcase, or backpack to travel, or have good luck traveling in the year to come."

Venezuela

metodex

January 1st, 2012

The running with suitcases seems to be Latinamerican. We do it here in Venezuela, i did it a bunch of times when i was a kid.

The United Kingdom

jason

April 19th, 2012

hi i was wondering if there is anyone out there who can help me with my dilema ?
i have been married to my wife who is peruvian for a few months now and she has just relocated with me to london.
on doing so my mother in law after a few days went back to our apartment in lima only to discover that all the sofas and dining chairs had been turned upside down !!!!!!
when questioned everyone denied doing it.
so we were going to change the locks on the doors when finally the cleaner/cook confessed she had done this weird thing and swore it was for my wife and i for good luck, but having not confessed to it in the begining im sceptical as to weather it was a good luck "spell" or a "spell" that will ensure that we never go back again to that apartment ?
if anyone has heard of this strange ritual before ? or come across someting similar i would be very pleased to hear from you ?
and learn some more information about this ……………thanks bye.
jason from london,england.

Venezuela

metodex

April 22nd, 2012

unless you're superstitious,dont worry about it. Doing that to your home without your permission is not acceptable.

Paraguay

RCC

September 17th, 2013

Hi Jason, I live in Lima, Peru and I´ve seen many times that when people are cleaning or mopping a place, especially, restaurants in Peru. They usually turn dining chairs upside down and place them on the tables. But I´d never heard it had to do with having good luck or bad luck.

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