Growing up in America my family’s New Year’s traditions consisted of food and fire works. Since we originated in the northern states, there was always a pot of sauerkraut cooking on New Year’s Eve. Each family member must devour at least one spoonful for good luck on New Year’s day. When we migrated south, we quickly added a heap of black-eyed peas to the plate (again for luck). I was never very fond of these two foods and so I only ever found solace in watching the fireworks ring in the New Year. A few days ago while talking to a friend from Brazil, I discovered a whole new outlook.
My Brazilian friend explained to me the importance of New Year’s Eve traditions to her and her fellow countrymen. She mentioned clothing, activities, and colors. Each thing had a significance toward how your new year would unfold. Here is what I learned and have now adopted.
New Year’s Eve Copacabana Beach
The clothing worn on New Year’s Eve must always be new. The outer clothing should be of a different color than the undergarment and you choose the color of each piece depending on what you hope the new year will bring.
My friend explained that she wears white with colored undergarments, like most Brazilians. This is a sign that she wishes for overall peace in her life. The undergarment she will choose this year will be red because she hopes it will bring her romance and passion.
She was shocked when I said I would like to wear black. She explained that the change it would bring might not be the type of change I would be happy to receive so I should carefully choose the other colors I want to wear with it. When Mr. AK asked about his attire; he was envisioned in a yellow shirt with white pants. This color arrangement would bring him money and peace in the New Year. He was quite happy with that response.
white = peace
green = health
yellow = money
black = change
red = romance and passion
purple = creativity
Our conversation then turned to the activities held at the stroke of midnight. Rather than kissing the nearest person, our Brazilian friend will be found on the beach (dressed appropriately in the aforementioned clothing) jumping the waves as they reached the shore. Seven waves will be hopped as wishes are made. This tradition is known to bring good luck and an increased probability that your wishes will be granted.
Flowers and candles are also set adrift as an offering to the goddess Lemanja. This is the Goddess of water. The tradition began long before Christianity appeared in Brazilian culture and so it is still highly recognized as a New Year’s activity.
I was amazed at the traditions and fun they inspired. I think this year you might find me at the stroke of midnight on the beach wearing a white dress with purple underwear jumping the waves.
It sure sounds like fun!
Hope to see you there and Happy New Year 2012!