Agüeros: Colombian New Year’s Traditions

We all have our traditions for December 31st and January 1st—some may be serious traditions, others may be silly ones, some may be family traditions, others may be personal traditions. In Colombia, there are quite a few traditions for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and while families and individual Colombians certainly have their own traditions, there are quite a few traditions that are celebrated on a national level. Most Colombians classify these traditions as agüeros—the word agüeros literally translates to “omen,” but in relation to New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day it refers more to things you do to bring you and those around you good things in the incoming year. Today, I am going to tell you about some of the most widespread agüeros for New Year’s Eve.

Agüeros light display in Medellín

Agüeros light display in Medellín

Eating 12 grapes at 12 o’clock (midnight) on New Year’s Eve

Even before midnight approaches, many Colombians will have already readied a cup of 12 grapes for each person celebrating with them that night. Some Colombians believe in having 6 green and 6 red grapes, while others focus more on the number than the color. Supposedly, the tradition of eating 12 is connected to the 12 times the church bells ring at midnight—with each ringing of the bells, you should eat one grape and make a wish for the incoming year.

Wearing yellow underwear to ring in the New Year

According to Colombians, if you want to have good luck, love and happiness in the incoming year you must wear a new pair of yellow underwear on December 31st. That’s right—never worn before and definitely yellow—no red-yellow or yellow-orange. And, to get it just right, you need to wear them reversed until midnight, and at midnight you’ll need to put them on correctly to ensure the arrival of good luck, love, and happiness. There are also some Colombians who further believe that the yellow underwear must be given to you, i.e. you cannot purchase it, and that in addition to bringing you good luck, love, and happiness, this agüero will bring you lots of new clothing in the new year.

Taking your suitcase for a trip around the block at midnight

If you like to travel, then you’ll want to make sure you participate in this Colombian agüero. According to many Colombians, if you take your suitcase out at midnight and walk around the block with it, you will be assured lots of traveling in the incoming year.

Green lentils for abundance

Green lentils for abundance

Filling your pockets with lentils

Another common Colombian agüero is filling your pockets with lentils on the 31st to ensure a bountiful and abundant new year. It does not matter what color lentils they are as long as you’ve got a handful of them in your pocket (some people also put them in their coin purse).

Cleaning your house—especially dusting—on December 31st

This agüero is a bit different, as it doesn’t actually work to make anything in the incoming year happen; rather it works to keep any bad energy from entering the New Year with you. So, as you clean your house on December 31st, you are ridding your environment of any bad memories, bad energies, or negative thoughts that you have carried with you throughout the present year and don’t want to take with you into the New Year.

Will you try any of these this New Year’s Eve?

Happy New Year,

Paige M. Poole

About the author:

“Paige M. Poole is an Alabamian and traveler at heart who has settled, for now, in Barranquilla, Colombia, and earns her living as an English professor at the Instituto de Idiomas (Language Institute) at la Universidad del Norte (University of the North). When not teaching English, she enjoys blogging, traveling, relaxing on the beach, and spending time with her partner and two cats, Milo and Sophie.  You can see more of Paige’s traveling experiences in her personal blog www.trotamunda.wordpress.com  

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