The period that begins with Christmas and goes until to the feast of the Three Wise Men (January 6) is one of the best times to visit Uruguay, both because of the weather and the variety of parties that take place, as well as because of the good spirit you will find in my compatriots, most of them already beginning their summer holidays. The bad news is that as many foreigners already know, the demand is high for hotels, inns, and apartments for rent during these dates, which Brazilian neighbors have baptized as “réveillon“, is high. Because of this, prices tend to be higher during those weeks than the rest of the summer. If you are one of the lucky ones who will end the year while visiting our country, understanding several aspects of the local culture will be useful for you to enjoy your trip to the fullest.
The New Year in Uruguay coincides with the summer, so take advantage of enjoying those days in front of the sea / Source
WHAT DO THE URUGUAYANS EAT?
Because the majority of Uruguayans are descended from European immigrants -especially from Spain and Italy, but also from the United Kingdom, France and Germany, among others- the foods that make up the typical Christmas and New Year’s menu are usually more appropriate for the cold of the northern hemisphere than for the average 30 degree weather in these latitudes.
The pork and roast lamb are two of the most traditional components on the menu. A small dish with cooked lentils, according to the superstitious people, will attract prosperity and that there will be plenty of food on the table during the year to come. The chicken, on the other hand, would be contraindicated, since it predicts that the year will start out “going backwards”, as this animal does on some occasions. Fruit cake, English pudding, nougat and polished fruits complete the list of typical foods on this date, but are accompanied by several kilos of ice cream, among which the classic flavor of dulce de leche is a must.
Nougat is one of the favorite desserts of Uruguayans for New Year’s dinner / Source
Keep in mind if you are going to have dinner on the 31st in a restaurant in Uruguay, as in Argentina and part of Spain, it is customary to start eating at 9.30 pm or even later. In families and groups of Uruguayan friends, it often happens that when the toast at midnight arrives… they haven’t even eaten dessert yet!
FOR THE SUPERSTITIOUS
Other local traditions, which probably coincide with several Latin American and/or European countries, are:
- Eating 12 grapes (at midnight on the 31st, one per bell). It is supposed to attract good luck.
- Filling a bucket or glass of water and throwing it back in the doorway of your house. The belief is that doing it will remove the bad energies of the home and ensure the beginning of the year clean of bad vibrations.
- Going out with a suitcase, at midnight, and walking around the block. They say that this action will ensure at least one trip in 2018.
COLORS IN THE SKY
Although they have their detractions, for the Uruguayans fireworks are synonymous with Christmas Eve and New Years, so the night sky during the second half of December becomes multicolored. In Montevideo, the Ramblas del Centro, Parque Rodó and Pocitos, and in Punta del Este in the area of the Port, are the places where the most lights compete in color, duration and form during the change of year. After midnight, the area of the Port has been for several years the place where the largest number of people in the spa, of all ages and socioeconomic levels, is concentrated. If you want to start the first day of the year in a more exclusive place, we recommend one of the many VIP parties that will be held in Punta del Este and its surroundings.
If you want to start the year in an exclusive place, do not miss the VIP parties in Punta del Este / Source: Flurmagazine
WATCHING THE SUNRISE
We have around 600 kilometers of beach along Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic Ocean, where you can enjoy the spectacle of the first dawn of the new year, which occurs at about five thirty in the morning. But keep in mind that in Montevideo, Punta del Este, the spas of Rocha and other parts of the country you will find several parties where the sunrise is not the end, but the peak of the celebration.
Enjoy the holidays and the austral summer with the best tours in Uruguay!
By: Carina Fossati, Uruguayan, journalist and author of travel blog Hills To Heels