🕊️Why Brazilians wear white on New Year ...

🕊️Why Brazilians wear white on New Year’s Eve

Dec 16, 2022

Dear reader, 

2023 is just around the corner, and with it comes a need to reflect on the last year and plan for a fresh start in the year to come. In Brazil, the end of the year is also a time filled with unique traditions, many originating from the non-Christian practices of the past.

One of them is wearing white during New Year’s Eve, a tradition brought by African-Brazilian religions that soon became popular around the whole country. But how did that come to be? Learn all about it here! And as always, if you enjoy this content, don’t forget to like, and comment your favorite holiday tradition. If you like receiving these pieces about Brazilian culture, consider donating us a coffee!

Best regards,

The Brazilian Report Team

The Black History of Brazilian New Year Celebrations

 Since they are kids, Brazilians are told that during New Year’s it is important to wear white, especially before midnight. Some say it’s a way to express gratitude for the last year, or that it represents peace or prosperity. But many don’t even know that this custom derives from festivities of African-Brazilian religions.

In fact, it comes from a tradition in Candomblé and Umbanda to bring gifts and offerings to the mother of all the Orixás and goddess of the sea, Iemanjá, on her sacred day. Although usually celebrated on February 2nd, celebrations start much earlier, overlapping with New Year’s Eve.

During the ceremony in honor of the goddess, offerings are made to make wishes, which people need to bring directly to the sea dressed in white. If your offering is swallowed by the ocean, your wish will be granted by Iemanjá. However, if it floats back to the beach, it has been rejected by the goddess.

Wearing white became part of Brazil’s general traditions around the 1970s, as some homages to Iemanjá would take place on the beaches of Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro and in Salvador, Bahia. Many onlookers would admire the beauty of the rituals, and gradually, some started adhering to some of its most prominent aspects, such as wearing white.

The tradition then passed down generations, becoming such a strong custom that even people of other religions (or no religion at all) usually wear white clothes for New Year's Eve.

However, it's also important to point out that, to this day, African-Brazilian religions suffer continuous repression in the country, many accusing them of being “witchcraft” or “paganism”. It is not uncommon for centers of Umbanda and Candomblé worship to be the targets of attacks, especially from other religions in the country.

Many don’t acknowledge the rich contributions African culture and spirituality had in Brazil. So, if you are in the country and decide to partake in this tradition, don’t forget to honor its Black history!

Not into white? Find out what color to wear into the new year

Even though the tradition is to wear white, many Brazilians believe in wearing a specific color as the clock hits midnight, in order to attract what they wish for the year to come. Each color has a specific meaning, so here is a list so you can step into 2023 with the right foot!

🕊️ White: peace, purity, and tranquility;

💍 Silver: novelty, innovation, and modernity;

👑 Gold: wealth, success, and prosperity;

🔥 Red: passion, desire, and intensity;

😄 Yellow: money, joy, and extroversion;

🍊 Orange: energy, enthusiasm, and courage;

💖 Pink: love, affection, and care;

🔮 Purple: self-knowledge, spiritual development, and intuition;

🍏 Green: health, hope, and good luck;

🧊 Blue: harmony, honesty, and trust;

🐈‍⬛ Black: independence, authority, and decision-making.

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