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How Colombians Ring In The New Year

Champagne flutes next to a board.
New Year’s Eve is very important in Colombian culture.

All around the world, people celebrate the New Year. They don’t always celebrate the day itself. The 1st of January is usually spent resting and recovering from the festivities the night before and the (very early) morning of.

That’s because all over the world, people watch their clocks and watch the seconds tick down to midnight on the 1st of January. A lot of people start counting down from ten once the clock hits 11:59:50. Once it does, champagne bottles pop and champagne flutes are filled. People find a partner and kiss at midnight.

That’s probably how you’re used to celebrating New Year’s Eve. That’s probably what you’re used to. But how do Colombians celebrate New Years?

If you’re in Colombia, with a Colombian woman, then you’d be well-served knowing how Colombians ring in the New Year. If you’re in Colombia and trying to get with a woman from there, then you’d also be well-served knowing how the day is celebrated.

Clean house equals fresh start

There’s a ritual that a lot of Colombians take seriously and that’s cleaning the house on the 31st of December. Cleaning the house on the 31st symbolizes getting rid of negative energy and memories that aren’t the kind a normal person would want at the forefront of their mind.

Basically, cleaning the house frees up the metaphorical space for good energy and new, better, memories. Kind of like how you delete a few files on a harddrive to make space for new files. Cleaning the house is the first step in Colombian New Years celebrations.

Yellow underwear

Are you a boxers or briefs kind of guy? Is your underwear of choice boxers with hearts printed on them? Or do you prefer the classic tighty-whities that are reliable if not exactly fashionable? Well, in Colombia, there’s a certain kind of underwear that people are encouraged to wear when they ring in the New Year.

It doesn’t really matter what type of underwear or the cut of it. What really matters is the color. See, in Colombia, people are encouraged to wear yellow underwear. The color of the underwear is supposed to attract love and happiness in the New Year.

Text saying greeting for the New Year.
How do Colombians celebrate New Years? Find out now.

12 grapes

Do you like fruit? You might. A lot of people like fruit, after all. But there’s a fruit-based New Year’s tradition that’s observed in Colombia. That tradition is eating twelve grapes at midnight, one at each chime of the clock. The grapes, traditionally, symbolize wishes for the coming year, so one for each month on the calendar.

Nowadays, eating the grapes is a fun little game to see who’s got the biggest mouth.


You’re going to want to wear a pair of bottoms with big pockets if you plan on celebrating the New Year in Colombia. Why? Well, it’s because there’s a tradition in Colombia that the pockets are supposed to be stuffed with lentils. Stuffing your pockets with lentils is supposed to bring about a successful year ahead.

Burn the effigy

You’re aware of the concept of voodoo dolls, right? It’s a miniaturized replica of a person and whatever happens to that doll also happens to the person. There’s a version of that that’s taken to a bit of an extreme. You take an effigy of the year, fill it with fireworks, and light it on fire and watch it go up in smoke, symbolically burning the previous year down. It’s a fun little quirk of Colombian culture.

Put your right foot forward

In Colombia, there’s a superstition that you’re supposed to put your right foot forward to welcome the New Year. That’s not a metaphor or anything. You are literally supposed to take your first step into the New Year with your right foot first. It’s supposed to portend the making of good decisions in the coming year, like dating a Colombian woman.

You can’t beat the wheat

You’ve probably gone out to clubs or the homes of friends to celebrate the New Year with some type of bash. But that’s not the way that the New Year is celebrated in Colombia. In Colombia, people gather at homes of their close friends or families and instead of a raucous party. There’s almost always a table at that party and on that table will be stalks of wheat.

The stalks of wheat are supposed to promise a bountiful or fruitful year going forward.

Bottle of champagne.
A new year is better with a Colombian woman.

Take your suitcase around the block

If you’re no stranger to travel, and you’re in Colombia so you’ve probably got some level of familiarity with travel, then you probably have a suitcase. Well, the suitcase isn’t just used for packing clothes in Colombia. It’s also used in a symbolic gesture by people who enjoy traveling or would like to do more of it.

If you walk around Colombia on the 31st of December, you might spot a few people lugging around suitcases. Some of them are travelers. But most of them are probably just locals going about their normal days. But why are they bringing around their suitcases? Why are they lugging them around like that?

It’s because there’s a belief in Colombia that going about with an empty suitcase will mean more travel in the coming year.

Put some cash in hand

So there aren’t a lot of people who would salivate at the prospect of going broke in the New Year. In fact, it’s mostly quite the opposite. Most people would like to have a greater degree of financial prosperity in the next 365 (366 for leap years) days.

While it may not insure making more money, a lot of Colombians like to have cash in their hands when the clock winds down to twelve.

There are 365 days in a year. They’re broken down into 52 weeks over 12 months. That’s a lot of time. It may not seem like a lot of time and it may seem like it flies by pretty quickly. But it’s a lot of time and how you spend the first day might set the tone for the rest of them.

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