Brazilian New Year Traditions We Should All Take a Note From

I first traveled to Brazil 15 years ago, and have spent more than a handful of New Years (‘Reveillon’) holidays there since my family moved south well over a decade ago. The traditions specific to Brazilian New Years are rooted in centuries-old superstitions, and what better way to celebrate our new year than by highlighting their rituals that inspire meaning and vision for the year ahead…

Intentional eats —

Before heading to the beach for the night’s festivities, it is customary to enjoy a meal of lentils and meat. Lentils represent good health, and meats (like pork) symbolize continued forward growth in the new year.

All white everything —

How to spot a tourist on New Years? Someone who is not wearing head-to-toe white! It is truly breathtaking to be a part of, and bear witness to, the legions of Brazilians (and foreigners) dressed in white, moving through the city’s streets… and (if you’re in Rio) onto the famous Copacabana beach. Millions of people gather on the beach to dance, enjoy caipirinhas by the moonlight, and most importantly, take in an incredible fireworks display.

Color, down under —

The importance of color is not just observed on the outside with white clothes, it’s also tradition for both men and women to coordinate their underwear with what they want the new year to bring (think yellow for money, red for passionate romance, and green for health). You can read more about the colors and their significance here.

Wrist wishes —

A final extension of the theme of using color to celebrate new beginnings and usher in good luck is through bom-fim bracelets. Similar to the underwear, bracelets are chosen as a reflection of what you are inviting in. Once your color(s) have been chosen, choose someone whom you trust to tie the bracelet. This person will make three knots and with the tying of each, you’re encouraged to make a new wish. According to tradition, the bracelet falls off when your wishes have been granted. (Be patient, as it can sometimes take years for these bracelets to fall off — but once they do you just might experience some magic!)

Flowers and waves —

One of the most beautiful traditions of the night involves honoring lemanjá, the Goddess of the Sea, with flowers, candles, and fruits. These gifts are taken out into the ocean as offerings, and it is believed that if your gift is not returned, you will continue to be blessed by her in the new year.

Do you need the reset of the all-white-look? Which colors can you bring into your day-to-day that represent your vision for 2019? And lastly, in light of the devotion to the Goddess of the Sea, what are you choosing to devote yourself to most fully this year? As we say in Portuguese, Feliz Ano Novo and Boa Sorte!

Jasmin Jenkins is a plant medicine advocate and intuitive connector based in Los Angeles. She was most recently the Head of Partnerships at THINX, and is currently consulting with mission driven startups.

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