Happy New Year! I hope this year is full of love and happiness for you.
Today I am writing, due to the massive response we received to my Christmas in Chile article. I thank everyone that took the time to comment on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and share their expat stories and experiences.
While most of the responses were positive with shared sentiments from fellow expats, there were a few negative responses.
It seems that I did not convey my love for Chile efficiently, and there were some people that asked me why I don’t just “go home”.
I want to start out by saying that Chile is my home. While my birth country is the USA, I have adopted Chile and have lived here as an expat for 6 years with no plans to move in the near future. I have a home and a family here, and I wouldn’t trade them for all the Christmases in the world.
I also want to share something that brings me great joy: New Year’s Eve in Chile
While Christmas isn’t really my groove, New Year’s Eve in Chile is easily one of my favorite holidays here.
This is due mostly to the fireworks on the coast.
Every year, for New Year’s Eve in Chile, at midnight over 70,000 fireworks are shot off of 18 launch pads along 15 miles (24 KM) of coast for a 30-minute show over the water. In Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, over 1 million people came into town to see the fireworks. Depending on where you are at along the coast, you can see one of the launch pads or even all of them. They even have boats you can go out on to watch the fireworks display right in the middle of the bay! It is a magical display, and it is one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen.
Fireworks are illegal for the public to have, so they make a bigger deal about the shows that are put on for New Year’s Eve in Chile.
Coming from a rural town, fireworks on New Year’s Eve were pretty hard to come by. Not to mention, the cold doesn’t make you want to go out and freeze to see some pretty lights. But, since it is summer time in Chile, you can go out, see fireworks and party until the sun comes up with no problem! Many of the parties last until 6am or even longer!
My family never really celebrated the new year, so it is great to be able to celebrate it here!
For our family, New Year’s Eve is a family event much like Christmas. We have a formal dinner, get dressed up, and go to see the fireworks, either at an apartment or at the street parties. The difference for me between Christmas and New Year’s is that it doesn’t feel so stressed. People are all happy, hugging each other, drinking, singing, and having a great time!
There are also some superstitions / traditions for kicking off the New Year in Chile:
- Eating 12 Grapes, (one for each month of the year) as the clock strikes 12 – To bring you luck and prosperity
- Taking an empty suitcase and rolling it around the block – To bring you travel in the coming year.
- Yellow underwear – To bring you luck in love
It’s a little silly, but lots of fun!
Seeing the fireworks is the best part though. For me, the fireworks are mesmerizing. I love to see the different colors and patterns. My favorites are the cascades of gold sparkles that fall slowly into the sea.
For me, the fireworks represent hope and joy, new chances and new energies. A year full of potential, waiting to be fulfilled.
While we don’t know what the new year will bring us, we can start it out right, and Chileans most certainly know how to do that.
I hope you have a marvelous 2018, may it bring you happiness and joy!
Have you ever spent New Year’s Eve in Chile or as an expat elsewhere? What were some of your favorite traditions in your adopted country?
Let us know in the comments below!
Caitlin is the managing director of Snuggleosophy and the mother of 1-1/2 year old Amanda. She has lived as an expat in Santiago, Chile for the past 7 years and speaks English and Spanish fluently. She loves to promote reading for children starting from birth as well as multilingual and multicultural parenting. For her day job, she is a pricing and transportation analyst for international freight.