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• 1 Jan: Año Nuevo (‘New Year’s Day’) – National holiday. Still part of the Christmas season, Año Nuevo is a day of rest after the longest night of the year – the Nochevieja (‘New Year’s Eve’, literally ‘Old Night’).


The New Year’s Eve is celebrated in much the same way like anywhere else in the world, with some exceptions, such as the old Spanish tradition of eating twelve grapes rapidly along with the twelve chimes of the clock at midnight to bring good luck for each month of the coming year.

There are many other rituals and beliefs that promise a good year ahead (mainly health, money and love) – the most popular one is wearing red (love) and yellow (money) underwear inside out.

After the New Year’s Eve dinner – which varies depending on the region – people watch firework displays and continue partying with friends.

Fireworks for the Nochevieja, Oaxaca, Mexico / Andreja Brulc

Fireworks for the Nochevieja, Oaxaca, Mexico / © Andreja Brulc

In traditional indigenous communities, new tribe leaders are inaugurated with colourful ceremonies rooted in the pre-Hispanic times.

Quema del Año Viejo

In southern regions of Mexico (and other parts of Central and South Americas), there is a custom known as Quema del Año Viejo (‘Old Year Puppet Burning’) – the making of a doll (a puppet) made out of cardboard, filled with sawdust or straw and fireworks, and dressed in old cloths. The puppet represents the Old Year and is set alight at midnight as a ritual of purification to ward off bad luck or negative energies [see Matias Vázquez‘s image].