Portuguese New Year’s Eve Traditions You Should Try

New Year's eve

Now that Christmas is over, it’s time to start planning your New Year’s Eve celebrations. Every country has its individual holiday superstitions and traditions, and Portugal is no exception! And even though toasting with champagne or bubbly (never water) is customary almost everywhere, Portugal has other, more unusual traditions that may both surprise and appeal to you.

Money, Money, Money
Don’t make the mistake of ringing in the new year with empty pockets, or you risk spending the rest of the year in the exact same way. According to superstition, having cash in your pockets will bring you money in the next year.

Twelve Raisins
It’s customary to eat 12 raisins – one by one – at midnight. One raisin at each stroke of the clock, representing the months to come. Doing this will bring you luck. Originally, the tradition was to eat 12 grapes, but raisins are much easier to eat in the short amount of time it takes for the clock to strike 12 times. You’ll find small bowls of raisins at Portuguese tables every New Year’s Eve and people start dividing them up as midnight approaches, so everyone has them ready when the clock strikes. Better get to the store and get some raisins this December 31st!


Pots and Pans
After you’re finished eating your raisins, it’s customary to stick your head out window and bang together the lids of your pots and pans, or hit your pans with a wooden spoon – anything that will make lots of noise. Originally, this tradition was meant to ward off evil spirits. It will also ensure any sleeping neighbors you may have will know exactly when the new year has begun!

Dip in the Ocean
Not so much a New Year’s Eve tradition, but a New Year’s Day tradition, this one isn’t for the faint-hearted. Unlike Australians who are celebrating the new year in summer temperatures, Portuguese people still have to deal with chilly and short winter days on January 1st. But does that stop some of them from going to the beach and running into the ocean? No: it’s their first dip of the year! Some even go in costume. It’s always a fun time watching these brave (slightly crazy?) people doing this on the news from the comfort and warmth of your own couch. They may be onto something though: it’s certainly one very extreme and effective way to shake off that hangover from the night before…


So what do you think? Will you be incorporating any of these traditions into your New Year’s Eve celebrations?

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  • Reply
    December 29, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    We were hard-line traditionalists and ate grapes at midnight but now are older and apt to pack it in around 10-11PM.
    Our pots and pans are too expensive to clatter about unless I nimbly dodge a well aimed throw from an irate wife. Feliz ano!

    • Reply
      December 29, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Feliz ano novo, Frank! I hope you donโ€™t get woken up by noisy midnight celebrations ๐Ÿ˜€

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