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New Year traditions in Portugal
Manuela Azevedo

The traditions to welcome the new year are quite different depending on the family, country, religion or culture concerned. However, the objective is practically always the same: to express wishes for the following year and to leave in the previous year everything that remained unsolved. The celebrations are different, but always lively and accompanied by toasts. Let's look at some of the Portuguese traditions for the New Year, which this year will have to be fulfilled with restrictions, but always with the hope of a better and more prosperous year.

1 - Eat twelve raisins and ask for twelve wishes for the year to come.

This tradition started at Portas do Sol, in Madrid, on the clock of the Casa dos Correios, at the end of the 19th century. In fact, grapes were already a mandatory presence on New Year's Eve in Germany and France. In Spain, the arrival of the new year was not celebrated because the tradition was that the arrival of the Magi on 5 January was celebrated. At a certain point, the Madrid City Council instituted a city tax for anyone who wanted to celebrate the Day of the Magi. As a form of protest, and to mock the habits of European powers, the Spaniards began to gather in Praça do Sol and eat raisins instead of fresh grapes. So this tradition started.

2- Toast with Champagne

Ancient cultures considered alcohol to be a source of vitality and health, hence the wine being called “Nectar of the Gods”. Once slightly drunk, people become more loose, happy, relaxed, the association with the party spirit was natural and obvious. It is said that one should not toast with water, because it was alcohol that symbolized life and the renewal of strength.

3- Watching Fireworks

Fire was used by primitive man as a form of protection, warding off ferocious animals, cold, darkness and, it was believed, also evil spirits. Thus, noise and firework light are used to ward off anything negative.

4- Dress new clothes and blue underwear

The new clothes make people more confident and in a good mood and the blue underwear is related to the wish of luck for the following year. Depending on what you want to achieve in the new year, there is a color for each purpose.

5- Take a dip in the sea

There is a tradition in some coastal areas, mainly further north in the country, to toast the New Year with a dip in the sea. This tradition resembles a passing cult, as it implies courage and resistance since on the 1st of January the Portuguese sea is very cold. Having the strength to do so brings courage, bravery and energy to face all the challenges of the coming year. In addition, sea water is the most purifying, and starting the year with a dip in the sea leaves all negative energies behind and invigorates the body, mind and, especially, the soul.

6- Make deafening noise with pot lids and dishes

On New Year's Eve, the noise serves to chase away the fear of everything that scares us and bring confidence that, the next day, we will continue to be in good health.

7- Jumping out of a chair with the right foot and money in hand

We climbed to a chair as a symbolic way of being closer to Heaven in this moment of transition. We jump with the right foot to "come in with the right foot" in the new year. And it is a habit to have money on hand as a way to enter the year with “wealth”.

NewYears, Traditions, History, Portugal
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