Posted on December 28, 2018
By Camila Larrea, Sales Team Pure! Chile
In Chile, Christmas and New Year´s is in the middle of summer. During this time, temperatures easily reach up to 30 degrees Celsius and people walk around in light clothing. Quite a different experience than the usual image people get when thinking about the December holiday season. However, as you are about to find out, the country of Chile offers many more interesting facts when it comes to their Christmas and New Year´s traditions.
Before we dive into the surprises, let me sketch you an image of what Christmas in Chile looks like. When driving on the public roads, one can easily see the streets and trees decorated with lights in many different colors. The surrounding houses are also decorated with the lights and a Christmas wreath is placed on the front door. When peeking through the window, a Christmas tree can be found in the living room; fully decorated and often littered with presents at the foot.
Sometimes, parents take their kids for a walk after dinner and one person stays behind to put the gifts under the Christmas tree. This way, when the children return from their walk, they see all the presents and believe that it was Santa Claus that fulfilled their gift wishes. The children write Santa letters, telling him that they have behaved during the year and expressing which gifts they would like to receive that year. It is an old fable that only the kids who behaved well will receive what they asked for, and those who did not would be brought coal as punishment. However, we have never heard of a child who was met with this fate, so all kids in Chile must be good ones.
The Christmas dinner table in Chile holds something quite extraordinary; besides the traditional Christmas food of chicken or turkey, accompanied by duchess potatoes and salads, an Easter bread is also present on every family´s table. This, because in Chile, Christmas is often associated with Easter! This traditional bread is only eaten during this time of year and consists of sweet dough, with ginger, honey, and crystallized fruits and nuts. A delicious treat that is eaten with a special drink on the side: Cola de Mono. This is a liquor made of milk, coffee, brandy, cinnamon, and sugar – Christmas in a cup!
Whenever the clock ticks midnight, the whole family gathers together around the Christmas tree where they open the presents. After, the children go out to the street to play with their new toys. Even though the festivities are more for children than for adults, it is still a great time for the adults to get together with relatives and friends.When we fast-forward a couple of days, we reach the New Year celebrations. In Chile, this is a great event and a party of the citizens. The night starts out with a dinner with family and/or friends where the food is pretty similar to that what is served on the Christmas table.
Throughout the country, a pyrotechnic show, or commercial fireworks show, takes place. Those who stay at home watch the TV with great enthusiasm as it shows them different views of the country where the show takes place. Every minute the images change to another city. A great show is put up in the Entel Tower in Santiago; a stage is installed, well-known Chilean artists perform their music, and market stands are at the ready to sell food and champagne to the bystanders. Naturally, the bottles are ready to be popped at midnight.
However, the biggest party in all of Chile takes place on the coast of the Valparaíso region. Here, a large stage is also set up and the festival starts at around 09:00 p.m., where national bands entertain the visitors during their wait for the midnight fireworks. At 12 o´clock, the fireworks are fired and champagne bottles are popped. People hug, dance, and celebrate.
After the festival, most people continue the festivities at private parties or they go to a friend´s house. Wherever they end up, the goal is to have fun and start the New Year with good and positive vibes only.Now, if you desire to introduce the New Year like a true Chilean, there are a few traditions that are very important to follow. As there are so many, I will only state the ones that are the best known:
- Wear yellow underwear! This might sound strange, but it is done to attract good luck into your life. Oh, and do not forget to put your underwear over your clothes right before midnight for the luck to work!
- Eat a spoonful of cooked lentils! This will bring you prosperity in the New Year.
- Embrace a person of the opposite sex at midnight. This will give you good luck in love and will maybe help you find your better half!
- Walk around the block with a suitcase in hand at 12 o´clock. Doing this will help you go on that trip that you always wanted to go on!
- Place a ticket in your right shoe. This will help you to receive economic prosperity during the coming year.
- Open all the doors of your house at midnight. This will help letting go of all the old from the previous year and welcome in the new.
- Climb on top of a chair or a staircase, making sure that the next year will always rise! When descending afterwards, make sure to put your right food first; this reinforces good luck.
- As the clock bells sound twelve times at midnight, make sure to eat a grape for each ring of the bell (one by one). Make a wish for each grape to attract good luck!
So, that is how you spend the New Year as a true Chilean! Maybe some of these traditions can be incorporated in other cultures as well!