new years traditions of the Spanish-speaking world

New Years Traditions of the Spanish-Speaking World

Coming back from Winter Break can be tough, and for some, even depressing! But now is a great time to reengage students by giving them something interesting to learn about! How about the New Year’s Traditions of the Spanish-speaking World? Not only is it interesting, but it makes for a great cultural comparison!

12 Uvas: A Popular New Years Tradition

In Spain and many parts of Latin America, eating 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight is a very popular tradition. Each time the clock strikes, you’re supposed to eat one grape and make a wish! It’s not very easy to do, especially when the grapes are large or have seeds in them! But in almost every household or out in the streets, people give it a try!

Do you think you could try this with your students? Check about allergies with your school nurse! Or make it a paper or digital version where students write their own wishes on 12 grapes for the coming year!


Another New Years tradition of the Spanish-speaking world involves suitcases! In many countries of Latin America, like Colombia, people take out their suitcases and walk around the block (or their house) with them! Why?? People believe that doing this will bring more opportunities for travel in the coming year!

So how can we make this fun for our students? Do you have suitcases? Could you see yourself taking your class for a trip around your school (inside or outside)? If there are not enough suitcases, maybe they could bring their backpacks? Then students could do a 10 minute free-write about where they would go if they could choose to travel anywhere in the next year!


I’m laughing as I write this! But did you know that one of the strongest superstations that some Spanish-speakers have is that wearing red or yellow underwear is very important? Wearing red undies is for people who are wishing for passion and love in the coming year. Yellow undies are for people hoping for happiness and financial success.

Want to bring this New Year’s Tradition of the Spanish-speaking world to life in your classroom? What if you printed out a body with undies, and had your students choose a famous person to make their drawing into. They would color in the person and their undies, and then write a short paragraph about who the person is and why they are wearing red or yellow undies! How fun!

Burning Things

Did you know that in places like Ecuador, Mexico and others that one popular tradition is making giant “dolls” of people from the past year. They could be politicians, famous people, or personal acquaintances with whom they did not agree. On New Years, these muñecos are burned as a way of symbolizing getting rid of the bad from the year before and starting fresh with the new year!

Maybe this tradition would make for a great class discussion or debate. Is this a good thing to do? Is it healthy, or does it promote something that is not in the best interest of civil society? It might be fun to get your students talking about both sides of this coin!

Throwing Water

This New Years tradition is similar to the burning of the muñecos. The idea is to throw a bucket of water out the window. It represents getting rid of any unhappiness or tears from the previous year. If you happen to hit someone you don’t like, some people believe this will bring the person you hit “mala suerte”.

Add this to your debate! Is this a good way to start a new year with a clean slate? Or does wishing bad luck on others set you up for another year of sadness? I bet the conversations will be interesting! You could also take your students outside to toss some water of their own!

Conclusion about New Years Traditions of the Spanish-speaking World

I often think that bring language to life by introducing our students to cultural practices and perspectives is what makes learning a new language fun and meaningful to our students. Learning about the New Years Traditions of the Spanish-speaking world is a great way to welcome them back after a long vacation! It’s fun and it gets them right back into using Spanish! Buena suerte a tod@s y Feliz Año Nuevo!


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new years traditions of the Spanish-speaking world