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New Year in Brazil: Your Guide to Brazil New Year’s Traditions

The celebration of a New Year in Brazil is filled with fun and superstitions. Keep reading to learn more about all the Brazil New Year’s traditions!

New Year celebrations in Brazil aren’t big, they are massive!

People around the country plan their food, clothing, and more only to bring lots of luck, prosperity, and peace for the upcoming year.

For us, the Ano Novo, Brazilian Réveillon, or simply New Year is guided by the motto “Ano novo, vida nova,” which means “New year, new life.”

But when it comes to New Year’s Eve, most Brazilians are extremely superstitious and religiously follow a few traditions even after the clock strikes midnight.

For us, it all comes down to what you do and eat during NYE because that will draw certain energies and wishes for the upcoming year.

So we make sure to follow certain traditions and fill our evening with good feelings to attract the best luck.

Whether you’re planning to spend the New Year’s Eve in Brazil or are just curious, these are the Brazilian traditions to start off your new year on the right foot!

How to say Happy New Year in Brazil: Feliz Ano Novo!

New Year in Brazil: Traditions, superstitions, and more

These are the most famous Brazilian New Year’s Eve traditions.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve preferably on the beach

It is a fact we party and welcome the coming year in style. Throughout the country, countless regional, family, or street parties take place, while many of them continue until sunrise on the 1st of January.

Just like in other Latin American countries, or any country around the world for that matter, we hold fireworks shows and bring lots of bright colors to the dark summer evening of December 31st.

Yet, while regional parties live up to the hype, many people who live a few hours away from the beach, make a road trip to the white sand beaches in our beautiful coastline only to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

That’s the hottest spot for parties!

New Years fireworks display along Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
New Year’s fireworks display along Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro

For instance, the réveillon in Rio de Janeiro is a massive beach party from Copacabana Beach to Ipanema and beyond.

For the new year of 2020, around 2.9 million people filled the Copacabana Beach in a celebration that started early in the evening and went on the whole night.

Rio de Janeiro New Year’s party is the 2nd biggest celebration in Brazil, only behind Carnival in Rio. (Our favorite holidays in Brazil.)

Also in Copacabana, a mind-blowing firework show takes place in the ocean for about 15 minutes.

To get a chance to see this show in real life, you must arrive early in the evening at the beach, or reserve in advance a hotel in Rio overlooking this popular beach in the city.

Places to celebrate New Year in Brazil:

  • Rio de Janeiro City
  • Paraty, a lovely fishing village in Rio de Janeiro State
  • Porto Seguro, Bahia
  • Garopaba, Santa Catarina
  • Alter do Chão, Pará
  • Salvador, Bahia
  • São Miguel dos Milagres, Alagoas
  • Trindade, Rio de Janeiro
  • Jericoacoara, Ceará
  • Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro
  • Boipeba, Bahia
  • Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais

For more inspiration, you can check out other fantastic places to visit in Brazil.

Spiritual offerings to Iemanjá

One of the biggest new year’s rituals in Brazil is to offer white flowers, soaps, combs, necklaces, and more to Iemanjá, the deity that protects the oceans according to the Afro-Brazilian religions Candomblé and Umbanda.

Both religions arose from the Afro-Brazilian communities among the slave trade that happened from the 16th to the 19th-century.

Offering to Iemanjá in Copacabana Beach
Offering to Iemanjá in Copacabana Beach

Because Iemanjá is the mother of the waters, people in coastal cities ask her for protection and peace for the upcoming year in return for a few humble gifts.

The gifts are placed in little boats in the Atlantic Ocean and pushed toward the open sea so that their deity may receive it.

Nowadays, even non-adepts of Candomblé and Umbanda make their offerings to Iemanjá.

Wear a white outfit during New Year’s Eve in Brazil

Oh, these Brazilians never cease to amaze!

New Year in Brazil equals wearing white clothing.

This tradition actually arose from the Candomblé religion, where people used to wear white during rituals seeking peace and spiritual purification.

Brazil facts: New Year's Eve traditions

Just like the spiritual meaning of wearing this color, people celebrating New Year’s Eve in Brazil hope to attract peace and spiritual protection for the new year by wearing white outfits. Remember, new year, new life.

Honestly, wearing white clothing is the top one thing to do in Brazil during NYE.

Wear multi-colored underwear

Before you pack only white outfits for spending a New Year’s Eve in Brazil, including white undergarments, read this first.

We wear this color because we wish for peace, but we want more than that. We Brazilians always want more. Why limit ourselves, right?

So here goes a fun fact about Brazil: to top off our wishes, we use colorful underwear to draw more good energies for the upcoming year.

Mind you, every color has a meaning which is rooted in the meaning of the colors.

Here are the general meanings:

  • White – peace and harmony
  • Silver – innovation
  • Blue – serenity and friendship
  • Green – good health and hope
  • Red – passion
  • Yellow/gold – money and happiness
  • Pink – romance and love
  • Purple – spiritual connection
  • Orange – creativity
  • Black – independence

Jump seven waves

Jumping seven waves is one of the most popular New Year traditions in Brazil. According to the Greeks, the sea has power and spirituality, causing our energies to be renewed when we enter it.

However, the ritual of jumping 7 waves originated in Umbanda and was meant to celebrate Iemanjá.

Juquehy Beach in Sao Paulo, Sao Sebastiao

According to the tradition, the person who jumps seven waves will receive spiritual purification and strength to overcome whatever obstacles may arise in the coming year.

With each wave you jump, you must make a wish or show some gratitude by thanking Iemanjá for something good that happened with you in the current year.

After you finish jumping the seven waves, do not turn your back to the sea. Do this only when your feet are out of the water, otherwise, it might bring you bad luck.

Eating pomegranate for good luck

Legend has it that keeping pomegranate seeds in your wallet attract prosperity and abundance.

Usually, the ritual takes place as follows: you should only eat the pulp of the pomegranate, which involves the seeds, but not chew the seeds or swallow them.

Pomegranate seeds

After that, you must keep seven seeds wrapped in paper until the Day of Kings (January 6) when you must put them in the wallet to attract money.

Personally, I haven’t tried this yet, but I can tell you I’m not rich, so I might consider adding it to my list of New Year’s Day traditions.

Eat lentils for positive energies

Like Christmas, we Brazilians also have seasonal dishes that are always present at New Year’s Eve suppers.

In this case, lentil is a food that’s believed to bring lots of positive energies. Although we don’t see it come up often in Brazilian food, it is a must-eat during New Year’s Eve in Brazil.

Lentils

However, this tradition has several rules. When consuming the lentil, you must climb on a high place, like a chair, table, or stairs. That done, eat 7 bites of lentil.

There you go. You will have a fantastic year, or so they say.

Avoid eating poultry

While some ingredients and food are no-brainers for every Brazilian, eating the meat of animals that walk backward is believed to bring bad luck and regression in life.

Brazilian Christmas food, turkey
Christmas turkey – not for NYE!

In general, prosperity is seen as a concept of moving forward and achieving new goals, which seems to be the opposite of some animals’ physical nature. Hence, it is considered back luck.

I told you, Brazilians are, on average, quite superstitious.

Toast with sparkling wine

No, we don’t make a toast with cachaça, the national liquor, on New Year’s Eve. Although, that wouldn’t be a bad idea!

In fact, we toast with sparkling wine, just like in many countries around the world.

Toasting with sparkling wine

This drink became popular for this holiday in Brazil because it is made of grapes, which is believed to bring luck since the fruit symbolizes prosperity and life.

For the same reason, it is very common to serve grapes in some areas of Brazil.

Attract wealth with a bay leaf

During the Middle Ages, the laurel was the plant that symbolized success, prosperity, and fortune.

Ancient people used bay leaves in most gatherings, either to season the food or to decorate the party.

Brazilian money, the real
Real, the Brazilian money. See the laurel wreath on the image? It’s not a coincidence!

In Brazil, the symbolic value of the laurel has been preserved. So, at the turn of the year, a bay leaf and a banknote are placed in the wallet and left there for the whole year.

On December 31 of the following year, you must donate the money and throw the bay leaf in a running water stream.

New Year in Brazil

Whether you’re heading to Brazil or just throwing a Brazilian New Year’s Eve party, I hope this post can help you learn more about our culture and have some fun while celebrating the upcoming year.

While not every person follows these Brazil new year’s traditions, they are still part of Brazilian culture and are not unknown to our people, believer or not.

Would you like to learn more about this country with continental proportions? Then you might want to read these books about Brazil and watch some Brazilian movies and shows on Netflix.

Did you like this post about Brazil new year’s traditions? Then share it with friends who might like it too!

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