Colombian New Year’s Traditions You Can't Miss Uncover Colombia


April 17, 2024, 6:45 pm

New Year's Eve in Colombia is a vibrant and diverse celebration, blending traditions, superstitions, and family customs to welcome the upcoming year with positivity and hope. Whether in bustling cities or serene countryside communities, the festivities offer a rich tapestry of rituals and gatherings.

In the urban landscape, New Year's Eve is a time for personal gatherings and community revelry. Many Colombians host house parties, where friends and family come together to share in the festivities. These gatherings often feature sumptuous buffet-style meals or sit-down dinners showcasing traditional Colombian cuisine and drinks. Additionally, bars and restaurants in major cities put on special events extending well into the early morning hours, offering lively entertainment and celebratory atmospheres.

Meanwhile, in the tranquil countryside, communities come alive with vibrant street-party-style celebrations. A hallmark tradition involves the creation of El Año Viejo, a scarecrow symbolizing the old year, which is placed atop a bonfire filled with fireworks. As the effigy burns, it signifies the cleansing of the past and welcoming new beginnings.Colombia's New Year's customs are steeped in superstitions and age-old traditions, each carrying its own symbolism and significance.

  • Yellow Underwear: Wearing yellow underwear on New Year's Eve is believed to bring fortune for the upcoming year.
  • La Maleta (Suitcase): Some people run around the house with an empty suitcase to symbolize a desire to travel in the new year.
  • Las Uvas (12 Grapes): Eating 12 grapes at midnight, each symbolizing a wish, is a traditional practice.
  • Lentils and Rice: Consuming lentils and rice or carrying uncooked lentils in pockets is believed to bring good luck.
  • Right Foot First: Taking the first step after midnight with the right foot symbolizes starting the year on the 'right foot.'
  • 12 Shards of Wheat: Placing twelve shards of wheat in a vase is said to ensure abundance for the coming year.
  • Money: Holding a note or coin at midnight is believed to bring financial security.
  • Cleaning the House: Cleaning the house before New Year's Eve is thought to bring positivity and a fresh start to the new year.
  • Burning a doll: The tradition of burning dolls made from recycled materials symbolizes casting away negativity and embracing fresh opportunities.

For many Colombians, New Year's is a time for family togetherness. Unlike in some Western cultures, where the emphasis is on socializing outside the home, Colombians typically spend the evening with their loved ones. It's a cherished occasion for familial bonding, akin to a second Christmas, albeit without the gift-giving.

In essence, Colombian New Year's celebrations are a blend of festive merriment, heartfelt traditions, and cherished family moments. They encapsulate the spirit of hope, renewal, and togetherness as communities eagerly await the dawn of a new year.

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Nidia Penagos

Nidia Penagos

Nidia started Uncover Colombia after feeling the tug to promote her native country through a positive perspective. What better way to do that than showing visitors the beauty and diversity of her homeland? She was well-aware Colombia didn’t have the best reputation and she wanted to change that. So in 2012, with the help of her Colombian husband and close group of friends, she laid the foundation to build a Colombian tour operator that offers unique adventures, safe experiences and utilises local knowledge on each and every tour. 

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