New Year Eve’s is an important celebration in South America especially in Chile. It is celebrated with family, fireworks and friends in that order. According to our friend, the young adults stay with their families until after midnight then they join their friends for the rest of the evening.
We were very fortunate that a friend and colleague of Kimberli’s was visiting Santiago during the holidays. Soledad was born and raised in Chile and comes back to visit every year. She and her family have a tradition of spending the New Year in Viña del Mar where her aunt (her mom’s twin sister) lives. They rent an apartment that looks right onto the beach where they have firework displays out on barges all up and down the coast. We felt so blessed to be invited to share in their celebration.
We hopped on a bus from Santiago and headed to the beach with millions of other Chileans. The bus station was a mad house and some buses were oversold. After a bit of a delay we arrived late afternoon and walked to the apartment. Soledad was there waiting for us and introduced us to her family. We had a bite to eat and she took us for a walk along the beach and through Viña del Mar.
We had a chance to catch up on the news from California before getting ready for dinner. Soledad and her sister prepared salads and put out all the items for the midnight toasts and rituals. This gave us the opportunity to discuss with her the rituals we had previously read about.
Here are just a few of the New Year’s rituals we clarified.
Per our reading, you should eat a spoonful of lentils at midnight to ensure prosperity for the upcoming year.
It is said that eating 12 grapes (one for each month of the year) at midnight and making a wish on each one would help to fulfill all wishes and projects in the new year.
Another tradition is wearing yellow underwear during the New Year celebrations. This was confirmed by all the yellow underwear (Soledad also clarified that it needs to be received as a gift) being sold on the streets of Santiago prior to the new year. Yellow represents vital energy and prosperity, so wearing this color would allow you to begin the new year with renewed energies and prosperity.
For those who are hoping for more travel in the coming year also have some rituals like grabbing your suitcase and going for a walk around the block.
Check out the sunset as we were preparing for the evening celebration.
Typically, the evening starts with a family gathering and a large dinner. We all walked over to Soledad’s aunt’s house for dinner where the rest of her family was waiting. We met aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. There was a huge spread including turkey and beef with delicious salads, sides and desserts. In addition, we had homemade Pisco sours and wine. It was a wonderful experience meeting all her family and sharing a meal. They went out of their way to make our visit so welcoming and comfortable. After meeting them, we know why Soledad has such a big heart… it runs in the family!
After dinner, we all walked back to Soledad’s for the midnight toast, rituals and fireworks. One of the traditions we really liked is that the barges let out a loud blast at midnight. Then they wait to start the fireworks until everyone has enough time to hug, kiss, wish each other a Feliz Año and enjoy their rituals. That way you do not miss any of the fireworks. What a cool idea!
It also allowed us time to exchange texts, videos and pictures with our families back in the USA.
The fireworks went on for 20-30 minutes and they were spectacular. We all visited and had a wonderful time before heading to bed.
New Year’s Day we had breakfast together, said our goodbyes and headed out to explore a bit before catching our bus back to Santiago. We visited the newly reconstructed pier that was previously destroyed in the last earthquake.
We hope to see Soledad again before she heads back to the states. If not, thank you to the Rivera and Rivero families for all your hospitality and kindness. It has been the highlight of our stay in Chile.