New Year’s Eve Traditions in Portugal

In Portugal, A noite de Ano Novo New Year's Eve is full of traditions and superstitions. Just like Christmas, the celebration begins with a family dinner, and even more holiday sweets.

It’s All About o Dinheiro!

Superstition says that you can attract dinheiro money in the new year by eating chocolate.
standing-on-chairAnother superstition says that you should hold some money while stepping up onto a chair, using your right foot first, to signify moving up in life and attracting richness.
An older belief that dates back to the 19th century says that you should put uma nota a bill inside your right shoe, and make the first purchase of the year with it.
You can also attract money by tossing a coin in the air and/or hopping on your right foot at midnight.
Just in case those aren’t enough, you can also put uma folha de louro a bay leaf in your wallet and leave it there o ano todo the whole year.

Interesting side note: In Brazil, they attract money by chewing seven sementes de romã pomegranate seeds on New Year’s Eve and wrapping them in a napkin to store in their wallet.

Bebidas Alcoólicas

Just like many other countries, Portuguese natives usher in the New Year with bebidas alcoólicas alcoholic drinks, preferably sparkling wine, and never water. They say that alcohol brings vitality and health (even though modern science may suggest otherwise)!
To renew your strength, you should save up a cortiça the cork from the champagne bottle and only throw it away the following year.
Some believe that at midnight you should jump three times with a glass of champagne in your hand, without spilling it, and then throw the liquid behind your back without looking. This is said to leave behind all the bad that happened throughout the year.
If someone is hit with the champagne in the process, don’t worry – they are supposed to have boa sorte good luck all year around!


people-new-yearsYour choice of clothing is also very important on New Year’s Eve.

Azul Blue brings you good luck

Vermelho Red brings you love

Amarelo Yellow brings you money

Branco White brings you paz peace

Verde Green brings you saúde health

Castanho Brown brings you professional success

Wearing new underwear is said to attract love and good luck. But it is heavily debated as to which colour is best. Some say that your underwear should be azul blue, while others say vermelho red.

Your clothes shouldn’t be too tight and should not have holes or tears. Otherwise, you may experience economic difficulties.

Vamos Fazer Barulho!

In some places of Portugal, the tradition says that at midnight, you should run to the window and make as much noise as you can using tampas lids from cooking pots. This tradition of making noise is one of the oldest and most rooted superstitions in the world, meant to scare away evil spirits and old ghosts that haunted the previous year. This is believed to have origins prior to the Roman Empire. In Lisbon, during the 50s and 60s, old plates and pots were thrown out the window. But this caused so such chaos that the ritual was put to an end.

More Ways to Ensure a Feliz Ano Novo

  • wishing-for-new-yearA common tradition is to eat 12 raisins at midnight – one for each of the the 12 clock strikes. For each passa raisin you eat, you make one desejo wish.
  • Before the celebrations start, some Portuguese will make their bed with new sheets to bring happiness to their love life in the year ahead.
  • At the beginning of the New Year, make sure you do a thorough cleaning of your home. Get rid of garbage and any old or unnecessary objects in order to drive away the negative energies of last year.
  • Don’t eat poultry as your last meal of the year or your happiness could fly away like a bird!
  • Avoid arguments of any kind on the first day of the year because that will set the pace for the rest of the year.

Some of these traditions are hundreds of years old, and the origin of some is unclear. Although many realize that these are just silly superstitions, many choose to follow them anyway. They make the party more fun and help to give everyone a positive outlook for the year to come.

And if you’re reading this during o Ano Novo, Rui and Joel at Practice Portuguese want to wish you:

Feliz Ano Novo! Happy New Year!

… because as the saying goes,

Ano Novo, Vida Nova! New Year, New Life!

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