Saturday, January 1, 2011

Celebrating the New Year in Brazil

While most of you folks are dealing with the cold, and many are still up to your…ahh…knees in snow, 
 we’re basking in the warmth of a Southern Hemisphere summer.
 And here, a stone’s throw from the Tropic of Capricorn, it isn’t only our weather that’s different. Our customs are as well.
 I’d like to share a few of them with you.

On New Year’s Eve we:

Dress ourselves in white. (Brings luck.)
Eat lentils. (Also brings luck. My wife firmly believes in this one, and makes sure I comply. It is a matter of indifference to her that I am not fond of lentils.)
Suck the pulp from seven pomegranate seeds, wrap them in paper and put them in our wallets  (To ensure that, throughout the New Year, those wallets will always contain money.) Alternatively, you can use a single bay leaf.
Eat three grapes at midnight. (For wish fulfillment. You make a wish as you consume each one.)
 Stand outside and fling coins into your house. (Brings cash to the household.)
Avoid eating crab. (Crabs move backward, symbolic of regression, not progression.)
Avoid eating fowl, like chicken and turkey. (Fowl have wings, which can cause your luck to fly away.)
Hold glasses of champagne in our hands and jump up and down three times. (This ensures that everything bad that ever happened to you will be left in the past. It only works, however, if you manage to do it without spilling a single drop of the bubbly. After which, you empty the entire glass over your shoulder. For obvious reasons, this is best done outside.)
Get up on chairs, or benches, and stay there as the clock strikes twelve times at midnight. Then get down, stepping first with the right foot. (This should not be attempted after consuming too much champagne.)
Enter the New Year with money in our pockets. (In the hope we’ll always have some there in the twelve months to come.)
 Put banknotes in our shoes. (This is said to attract even more money.)
 Only use clean handkerchiefs after midnight. (God knows why.)
Make sure that the first person we embrace to wish a Happy New Year is a member of the opposite sex. (This is supposed to bring luck in love. I’m not sure which sex you’re supposed to embrace if you’re gay. I shall have to ask one of my gay friends about that.)
Run around the house carrying an empty suitcase. (This only applies to those of us who plan to travel in the course of the coming year. Caution must be exercised not to bump into people jumping up and down with glasses in their hands, thereby causing them to spill champagne.)
Light candles and throw roses into the sea. (This is done to please Iemanjá, Queen of the Waters and mother of the Orixás. Most Brazilians are, to some degree, spiritualists, and this custom is taken very seriously.)
On the beaches of Copacabana and  Ipanema  hundreds of thousands of people make their offerings at midnight. Some of them also give The Lady perfume, money even jewelry.
Step into the ocean and jump over seven waves in succession. (To help us to overcome physical and spiritual difficulties in the year to come. ) Many family members join hands as they do this, symbolic of the family overcoming those difficulties as a unit.
Make a lot of noise. You can use whistles, drums, beat on pots and pans, whatever it takes – but it has to be exactly at midnight. After which you start shooting off your fireworks. (This, of course, harks back to the ancient peoples who did it to frighten away evil spirits.)
Brazilians are very big on fireworks on New Year’s Eve. This year, there were eleven barges anchored four hundred meters off the beach at Copacabana. Each barge fired off 1,200 huge skyrockets and the pyrotechnics went on for twenty minutes. More than a million people stood on the beach and watched the show.

Sing Adeus Ano Velho, Feliz Ano Novo. It’s our equivalent of your Auld Lang Syne
Brazil’s biggest New Year’s party takes place in Brazil’s largest city. This year, as last, a huge stage was erected on São Paulo’s major thoroughfare, Avenida Paulista.
Big names from the world of Brazilian popular music performed and a huge amount of fireworks lit up the sky. The party started at eight PM, was still going on at 3:00 AM.
More than 2.5 million people attended.
Happy New Year, everybody! I hope you enjoyed your parties as much as we did ours.

Leighton – Monday


Jemi Fraser said...

2.5 million??? Wow!!!

I'd never heard of many of these traditions before. Very, very cool - thanks so much for sharing!

Hope 2011 brings you all kinds of joy :)

Bill Kirton said...

Fantastic, Leighton. Thanks for that. I thought some of the Scottish things were quaint but you outdo us by a long way. It sounds like a very busy way to start the new year.

All the best for 2011.

Anonymous said...

Leighton, it can be said that I spend much too much time on the computer. I end up in places I didn't know existed. Today I found this blog, another chance to read your musings and Yrsa's.

And there are new authors too investigage.


Jean Henry Mead said...

Great post, Leighton. I think some of our superstitious southerners who immigrated to Brazil during the Civil War must have influenced some of your New Years' customs. :)

Happy New Year!!!

Jaden Terrell said...

Fascinating traditions, Leighton. Do you think that coin-tossing thing will work, even if I'm a few days late?

Chester Campbell said...

Wow, Leighton, you guys have some cool customs down there. The mention of Ipanema took me back to my younger days when "The Girl from Ipanema" was popular

Leighton Gage said...

Hi Jemi, Bill, Beth and Jean,

Thanks for reading and commenting.


Absolutely! Leave the coins lying around on the floor for a day or two. When you see them, think "abundance". This is supposed to attract even more good energy.

Ah, Chester, The Girl From Ipanema.
Did you know there really WAS a girl from Ipanema?

I'll be blogging about her, right here, in a few weeks' time.

Happy New Year All,