New Year´s is a big and important celebration all around the World, and Peru is of course no exception.
The festival might largely be associated with fireworks and having fun with friends but there are also a number of important customs associated with the New Year that are intended to bring good luck and fortune. In Peru, people are generally more connected with the spiritual, the mystic and the superstitious than people in the US or Europe - and they do believe in miracles!
A Peruvian New Year
The wide range of customs to celebrate the Peruvian New Year vary and each family has their own traditions. Many Cusqueño families (from Cusco) for example celebrate the New Year together by having a late lunch and then the young people will go out with their friends in the evening. There isn't a specific food associated with New Year but turkey, chicken and guinea pig (cuy) are common, and drinks such as hot chocolate (typical for Christmas as well), Pisco Sour cocktails and local beer are popular.
Where to be on New Year´s Eve in Peru?
The most popular places to be for New Year’s Eve celebrations are generally Lima and Cusco, though parties and festivals take place in every city throughout the Andean nation. You will be able to find all types of parties, from laid back family affairs to elegant black tie galas.
In the capital city of Lima, hotels or high-rise buildings offer incredible views of the city-wide firework spectacle (which can be seen in this incredible video) and many restaurants as well as popular bars offer special dinners or glamorous parties. In Cusco, the most popular place to watch the celebrations at midnight is in the Plaza de Armas or on one of the balconies surrounding it.
Typical New Year´s Traditions & Superstitions
The sheer number of New Year's traditions and superstitions that are practiced in Peru is incredible and it is difficult to keep up. Every New Year's Eve, you will see a number of Peruvians ushering in the next year by engaging in some of these quite unusual behaviors, mostly intended to bring luck and good fortune.
Below are just a few examples of the traditions and superstitions many Peruvians believe in, with some being more popular (or crazier!) than others.
• Running around the block with an empty suitcase, briefcase or backpack means to travel or have good luck traveling in the year to come.
• Writing down five wishes and to make them come true, dipping them in a glass of champagne.
• Wearing new clothes - typically underwear. This normally 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.
• In Cusco, it is very common to buy lots of yellow flowers or have yellow ´pica pica´ paper confetti all around the house for good luck.
• Placing three potatoes under your 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 you will have. The potato with no skin means no money, partially skinned means a regular year, and a potato with full skin means lots of money.
• Throwing twelve coins or cents over your shoulder and onto the curb or street. This represents throwing out the poverty of the previous year. To pick up twelve coins (not your own) on New Year's Day is considered to bring additional luck.
• Distributing rice around the house, which is intended to bring money, luck, and possibly fertility.
• Placing coins inside your shoes and then wearing them on New Year´s Eve. This is supposed to get you a raise or more money in the New Year.
• Eating twelve grapes under the table at midnight and saying the name of each month as you consume each grape rapidly. Dropping a grape forecasts bad luck for that particular month. A thirteenth grape must be eaten to assure extra good luck.
• Let the men cross the threshold into the home first, from the street. If a woman does this first it will apparently be a bad year.
• Placing beans into your pockets at midnight, and wishing for money whilst doing so.
• Visiting shamans in Northern Peru, who promise to ward off all the evil spirits with a chamomile bath.
• Dressing up a large doll (sometimes stuffed with fireworks) with old clothes and burning it on the street. This signifies getting rid of the old, and making a fresh start.
We wish you a 2019 full of love, joy for travel and exciting adventures!
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