Chef Ximena Llosa's play on the traditional pork served for New Year's Eve in Peru is topped with a sweet mango chutney and served alongside a fragrant rice pilaf.

Chef Ximena Llosa’s play on the traditional pork served for New Year’s Eve in Peru is topped with a sweet mango chutney and served alongside a fragrant rice pilaf. (Photo/Courtesy Ximena Llosa)

New Year’s Eve traditions: Central and South America

New Year’s Eve is celebrated across the globe, but nowhere in the world do people love to party  on the last day of the year as much as in Latin America. Here’s a look at some of the foods and customs – think lentils, buñuelos and roast pork – that are traditional to New Year’s Eve celebrations in Central and South America.

After a Thanksgiving weekend eating marathon, a meatless Monday, with this warm and hearty lentil salad, is in order. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

Warm lentil salad. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

In Brazil, the celebration – called Réveillon – is a coast-to-coast party with fireworks, concerts and parades as cities compete to offer the best festivities. Brasileños dress in white and observe other rituals like lighting candles and sending them off to sea in boats as offerings to Iemanja, the goddess of the sea, as a way to earn blessings for the upcoming year. And food plays an important role in the country’s traditions: lentils are prepared for good health, while pork and fish are consumed as entrees. And if you’re hoping to have lots of cash in the New Year, tradition dictates that by midnight you must eat seven raisins and place the seeds in your wallet to ensure it will never be empty. Check out the recipe for warm lentil salad here.

Mini buñuelos with honey cream.

Mini buñuelos with honey cream. (Photo/Courtesy Ericka Sanchez.)

In Mexico, as in much of Latin America, the holiday celebrations extend past Christmas Day well into the New Year. And on New Year’s Eve, dinner always includes foods that signify the transition from the old year into the new: bacalao (salted cod fish), ponche (warm tequila punch) and buñuelos (crispy fried fritters). Other traditions to ensure luck and good fortune in the New Year include cleaning your home and or throwing out a bucket of water from the window for renewal. Check out the recipe for mini buñuelos with honey cream here.

Chef Ximena Llosa's play on the traditional pork served for New Year's Eve in Peru is topped with a sweet mango chutney and served alongside a fragrant rice pilaf.

Chef Ximena Llosa’s play on the traditional pork served for New Year’s Eve in Peru is topped with a sweet mango chutney and served alongside a fragrant rice pilaf. (Photo/Courtesy Ximena Llosa)

Turkey and chicken are the proteins of choice in Peruvian celebrations of New Year’s Eve and a glass of pisco sour is enjoyed during the evening meal as well. And potatoes also play an important part of Peruvian traditions, although perhaps not as you’d think. Three potatoes – one peeled, signifying no money, one with its skin to convey plenty and one partially peeled to predict a “regular” year – are played under a chair and without looking, guests are invited to choose one. The potato you choose is considered a means by which to predict the year but if you don’t have potatoes, you can also eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes 12 to ensure good luck for year month of the year.  Check out Chef Ximena Llosa’s recipe for pork loin with mango chutney here. 

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