I won’t try to sum up New Year’s celebrations in a continental-sized country like Brazil. What I am gonna do is share how we welcome the New Year in Rio de Janeiro.
Admittedly I took for granted New Year’s Eve celebrations in Rio all my life. London, Paris, Vienna, Prague have nothing on it, trust me. It is just a completely different game over there. First of all, it’s summer. Celebrations take place in open air, on the beach, out on balconies, with fireworks and people celebrating outside until dawn and then some more. This is bigger than Carnival and we call it Réveillon.
A word borrowed from the French, it designated the all-night-long parties thrown by the nobility. Brazilian nobles adopted the word but nowadays it has little resemblance to the times of yore. The melting pot of cultures that is Brazil has evolved into a Réveillon full of traditions and superstitions that, although originated within defined religions, have spread to nation-wide practice.
These are the essential rituals you’ll see and experience (if you wish) in Rio on December 31st:
FIREWORKS ON THE BEACH
Absolutely non-negotiable. People who live far from one drive earlier to the beach and wait out until party time. If they know someone who knows someone who knows someone who lives near the beach, you can bet that’s where they’ll be.
The city of Rio de Janeiro has more than 72km (44mi) of beaches. Everyone heads to one unless they have access (or friends with access) to the parties happening on every single balcony on the buildings that line the various promenades.
Copacabana is definitely the most famous spot and it attracts 3 million people every year. In 2017-2018, it was 17 minutes of fireworks non-stop. Yes, we go all out.
If only one tradition was to be pointed, it would have to be wearing white. The color of the clothes we wear symbolizes our wishes for the new year. The most traditional is all white, for peace. Its origin comes from the Afro-Brazilian religions’ devotees, who wear white for purity during their rituals.
But that’s not to say all we want is peace. Your underwear is where you’ll be wishing for something more!
- yellow (super popular) = the color of gold, for money and prosperity
- pink = true and everlasting love
- red = all-consuming passion
- green = good health
A final, but no less important, touch for good luck is to wear new clothes, at least partially. Not necessarily bought just for the occasion. As long as it has never been worn before, it’s ????.
So the least you must do is get yourself a new pair of colored undies to complete your réveillon outfit!
OFFERINGS TO IEMANJÁ
View this post on Instagram
Very common, although closely connected to the Afro-Brazilian religions, is making offerings to Iemanjá. She is the Goddess of the Sea, protector of fishermen and also linked to love and fertility. Making offerings is a way to ingratiate yourself so she grants your wishes for the new year. Traditionally you’ll offer her white flowers. But if after throwing them into the ocean they return to you, it’s interpreted as bad luck.
JUMP 7 WAVES
For more good luck, go to the edge of the water and jump 7 waves, facing the sea, making one wish for each. Don’t turn your back to it as you retreat, as this will bring bad luck with money.
View this post on Instagram
Lentils are traditionally linked to good luck, so you should eat it at New Year’s Eve.
Eat 12 grapes, at each stroke of the clock following midnight. Save the seeds in your wallet to attract money.
Stay away from poultry! They scratch the earth backward, meaning the opposite of progress in the year ahead. Personally, I love salpicão, a traditional dish at our NYE table, which has chicken in it, and I consider myself a lucky person. Make sure you follow lots of the other good-luck superstitions to offset this one 😉
Finally, it’s customary to wait until after midnight for the proper New Year’s dinner. Until then, you can drink and eat appetizers, though.
People will drink whatever they normally drink throughout the celebration: mostly beer (ours is lighter than the European kind and served super cold), but also drinks or whatever else you wish.
But at midnight, you should toast with champagne (or similar).
What did you think of the New Year’s Eve traditions in Rio? Are there particular rituals in your country? Let me know in the comments!
PS: I will be taking a break from publishing posts until January 12th, 2019. Have a joyful Christmas and a wonderful new year!!!????
Was this post helpful? Save it on Pinterest!