8 Crazy Cuban New Year’s Eve Traditions

8 Crazy Cuban New Year's Eve Traditions

8 Crazy Cuban New Year’s Eve Traditions

On the stroke of midnight on December 31st, my American friends raise their glasses and proclaim, “Happy New Year!” They take a sip, kiss their loved ones, sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and call it good. 

Cubans? Not so much. Our superstitions…um… I mean, traditions, are a little more…um…colorful.

First, you need SUPPLIES

  • Grapes.
  • Sidra – a dry, non-sparkling Spanish apple cider. (No, not champagne.)
  • A bucket filled with water. Ideally it will be dirty water. More on that later.
  • A few dollars in an envelope.
  • A suitcase (but only if you want to travel in the new year).
  • An effigy. (I warned you it was going to get crazy.)

Then you need to do a few things in PREPARATION.

  • Count out 12 grapes for each guest.
  • Pour sidra for each person. Not champagne, mind you. Sidra.
  • Sweep and mop your entire house and save the dirty water in a bucket. (I know. Trust me.)
  • Create an effigy of the past year which you will be burning at midnight. 

There’s a method to all of this madness. Try to keep up. 

At precisely midnight, you will eat all 12 grapes, representing each of the 12 months of the new year, making a wish with each one. Pace yourself. You can do it.

Quickly wash the grapes down with the sidra. Fine. Use champagne if you must. Or even Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. But do it! This has to be accomplished in the first minute of the new year. No pressure.

You’ve Cuban Cleaned® your entire house. Now take your bucket of dirty water – which represents all the bad juju from the past year – and throw it out into the street in a grand and dramatic of gesture of being DONE with all the bad stuff.

Yes. Cubans everywhere will be hauling buckets of water and tossing them out into their streets to welcome the new year. But first, of course, the old has to go

Take the dollars that you have in the envelope and put them into your mailbox. Because doing this will obviously attract prosperity in the new year. Obviously.

Take the suitcase and walk around the block with it. This is done only if you want to travel in the coming year. If you can’t go all the way around the block. (AROUND THE BLOCK??) Okay. At least drag the suitcase outside. Come on! You’ve got this!

I understand that your non-Cuban neighbors may be a bit alarmed by the flames, but it’s worth that momentary discomfort to be completely rid of The Awful from the last year.

Kiss and hug the ones you love best and rest in the knowledge that you’ve done your part to ring in the new year in great Cuban style and are therefore, pretty much guaranteed a FABULOUS New Year. 

You did it!

You have done everything absolutely right. You obediently ate your grapes and made your wishes. You drank your sidra (or champagne or Martinelli’s) and toasted the new year. You threw the water with the bad juju out in the street. Out with the old! 

You’re already attracting money and you took your suitcase for a warm-up around the block for all the traveling you’re going to be doing this year. The old year with all of it’s drama and sadness is still out there, burning. You have kissed and hugged those that you love best. 

The coming year is going to be awesome and it’s time to celebrate! 

Prospero Año Nuevo, my friends!

Do you know what will make this new year awesome? Having my Cuban Food Poster in your kitchen. What a fun way to celebrate your Cubanity!

Marta Darby Designs on Etsy. Word Art to Make You Happy. 


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