New Year is a huge celebration all around the World, and Peru is no different, with this festival largely associated with drinking and having lots of fun with your friends. However, there are a number of rich customs associated with New Year that are intended to bring good luck.
In general, in Peru people are more connected with the spiritual, the mystic and the superstitious than we are in the west… and they do believe in miracles!
Customs associated with the New Year are intended to bring good luck- a popular tradition is to dress up a doll - (or effigy) with old clothes and then burn it, which signifies getting rid of the old, and making a new start. New clothes are also popular representation of the new, and markets catering to this idea spring up in the streets of Cusco in the days before New Year. If you haven't got new clothes, underwear is a very popular alternative. The colour of your underwear is also important - with most popular yellow (for happiness and luck) followed by red (for love) or green (for money).
If you want to travel in the upcoming year, you should take a suitcase or briefcase and carry it around the block or Plaza de Armas on New Year's Eve.
Eating of grapes as the clock strikes 12 is also a popular way of bringing luck - one grape for each of the 12 upcoming months.
Other people light coloured candles (the meaning of the colours is the same as for the underwear, with white bringing good health) in their house. People also participate in a tradition known as "baño de flores" - or a bath of flowers. Depending on what they are wishing for, they fill a basin with water and flowers of a certain colour (roses for love, for example) and will bathe using this combination of water and flowers. At midnight, they put beans into their pockets, and whilst doing so, they wish for money.
A classic custom is to place three potatoes under your chair or sofa - one peeled, on partially peeled and one with it's' skin. At 12 o'clock you need to choose, (without looking) one of these potatoes and it will forecast what type of financial year you will have. The potato with no skin means no money, partially skinned means a regular year and a potato with a full skin means lots of money!
In a similar vein, if you throw 10 cents over your shoulder it represents throwing out the poverty of the previous year, and therefore bringing auspiciousness. Other people distribute rice around the house, which is intended to bring money and luck.
As illustrated here, Cusqueño families have a wide range of customs to celebrate the New Year - and each family has their own tradition. Many families celebrate the New Year together by having lunch and then the young people will go out with their friends. There isn't a specific food associated with New Year but turkey, chicken and guinea pig (cuy) are common, and drinks such as chocolate (also associated with Christmas), pisco sour and Cusqueña beer are popular.
Do you want to have a unique peruvian Christmas and New year period? Check out our Christmas in Peru packages.
We have specially designed tours so you can celebrate New Year in Peru.
Be in the Plaza de Armas at 12 midnight and be prepared to run!
For those a little more sedate, get a seat on one of the balconies around the plaza and watch the mayhem!