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New Year. New Knowledge. New Perspectives.

January 1st always seems to creep up on us and we find ourselves asking, “Where did the year go?!” We think about everything that’s happened and everything we’ve gone through. Whether it was a year of challenges or a year of prosperities, the end of the year is a time to reflect and make resolutions for the months to follow.

No two years will ever be the same; however, every year we should challenge ourselves to grow, learn something new, inspire change.

One of the greatest ways to grow is to continually discover the beauty in cultures that are different from your own. It’s said that knowledge is power so let’s start this new year by empowering ourselves with the knowledge of New Year’s Eve traditions from other countries and appreciate such diversity in this amazing world we live in.

New Year. New You. In Peru?
Ringing in a new year is one of the most celebrated traditions in Peru. Many of Peruvians’ unusual New Year’s customs are derived from ancient practices; however, some are taken from Spanish traditions and others are uniquely Peruvian. In Lima and Cusco, people gather in the Plaza de Armas on the balconies overlooking the square. Visitors and tourists line the streets throughout the plaza waiting for an elaborate fireworks display at midnight. Street vendors sell an assortment of traditional Peruvian food, beer, and sweets. What more could you ask for?

The potato is a significant resource in Peru. At the New Year, it is tradition to put three potatoes under a chair in your house. One potato is peeled, one is partially peeled, and one is left with all its skin. At midnight, one potato is retrieved with eyes closed. The potato selected is said to predict what the following year will bring. The potato with all the skin indicates good fortune and money, the one partially peeled indicates the year will be normal, and the completely skinned potato signifies a year with no money.

One last New Year’s custom is to eat 12 grapes—six green and six purple. As the countdown to midnight begins, a wish is made before eating each grape. After you have finished all 12, representing each month of the upcoming year, a 13th is eaten for good luck.

Celebrate Colombian Style.
Colombia practices many of their own unique traditions to celebrate the start of the new year, and they also like to make wishes upon 12 grapes.

Colombians other practices include filling your pockets with lentils, dry of course (or that would get messy). With its roots supposedly dating itself to ancient Europe, pockets full of lentils are thought to guarantee the following year to be a bountiful year. Along similar lines, Colombians dress their table for the festivities with shafts of wheat, typically 12 to represent every month, to ensure the New Year will be bountiful with an abundance of food to eat.

It is believed that the new year is time for new beginnings, and this is only possible by leaving all your negative memories behind. It’s traditional to thoroughly clean your house on December 31st to ensure all those bad energies won’t follow you into the months ahead. If you want to take it one step further (quite literally), Colombians in the region of Valle del Cauca and the city of Cali head out on the final day of each year to the Pance River just outside the city. Here they wash themselves with soap to rid their bodies of any bad energies that were remaining from the past. They believe in starting off fresh from your personal self to your personal belongings.

Fresh Starts and Fresh Perspectives.
Whether you’re ending your 2019 preparing for the good that is to come or casting off the bad from the past 12 months, New Year’s Eve is a day to create your own traditions and set new goals and expectations for yourself. Though it may be a simple flip of the calendar page, the new year is a mental reset—a time for a fresh start and a fresh perspective. It’s not always about what you rid from your life or give up, but rather what you add.

Let’s add positivity. Let’s add an inspiration to impact change. Let’s add the desire to leave this world better than we found it. That’s our resolution for this year and for every year to follow.