By Juan Sempere
So you packed your bags and headed for some year-end fun under the sun at one of the Caribbean’s top destinations. After all, who needs another dose of “Auld Lang Syne” while you watch the ball drop on Times Square from your living room?
Now that you’re abroad you might want to blend in with the locals as the time to usher in 2018 comes a-knocking. Here are a few of the traditional, the unusual, and the downright quirky ways some countries around the Caribbean celebrate New Year’s Eve:
Color me surprised! In the underwear department, that is. In several Latin American countries (Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Mexico, among others) it’s common belief that you should wear colored undergarments in order to get certain results during the upcoming year: Red is worn to garner the attention of the opposite sex, yellow brings in financial success, white… shows your brand of laundry detergent is really powerful, we guess? So dress accordingly, someone is sure to notice.
Luggage Run, Paint for Prosperity
Suitcase runs. In the mood to travel around the world in the near future? Start things up by going around the block first. Mexicans and Colombians think that grabbing a suitcase (empty, of course) and doing that brief walk will translate into a year full of travel and adventure. Just don’t wander around too far; you don’t want to give front-desk employees at your resort the impression that you’re "doing a runner" without properly checking out first.
Clean up your act. Some island nations favor the idea that cleanliness is next to godliness. Jamaicans will don their cleanest, best outfits for a night of partying and carousing, and they usually make sure there isn’t any dirty laundry to be done by the time the clock strikes midnight. Dominicans will not only clean up their homes leading up to the New Year, sometimes they’ll go as far as painting a room (or even the entire house) for good luck. On a side note: Applying a fresh coat of paint to your hotel room is frowned upon, so don’t even bother.
Clappas, Cohetes, and Grapes
Start 2018 with a bang… Literally. Ah, fireworks: Wonderment of children and bane of household pets everywhere. Nearly every country in Latin America and the Caribbean includes pyrotechnics as part of their New Year celebrations, but some of them really go the extra mile. Jamaica has their traditional fire crackers or “clappas,” Mexico has their loud and colorful “cohetes”… but Dominicans go all-in with the “bazuca:” a contraption made with duct-taped tin cans, a mixture of water, some type of combustible, and an open flame to produce a loud bang. None of these explosive distractions are exactly legal, but rest assured you’ll notice them around.
Don’t choke on the fruit! A Spanish tradition that enjoys a large following all over Mexico and other Latin American countries is the “twelve grapes:” You’re supposed to eat a grape with every chime that signals the arrival of midnight and the New Year, and those who finish them all in time are bound to enjoy a prosperous 2018. Sounds easy, but trust us, it takes some practice. And no, you can’t take your twelve grapes “in liquid form” as sips of wine, so save those for the toasts, OK?
As you can see there are plenty of unique, fun ways to welcome the New Year away from home, but don’t forget to check with your resort’s staff for themed parties and other events. You’ll be sure to find something that fits your mood and that will fill your vacation’s memories with more than a few smiles. Happy New Year!