There are several New Year traditions here in Brazil which most people abide by. They are:
Wear white clothes, head to toe - even my staunchly British father had a white suit and shoes especially for this occasion!
Eat twelve pomegranate seeds at midnight
Let off fireworks
If at all possible go to the beach, where at midnight you will hop over seven waves and throw a white rose into the sea as an offering to Iemanjá. The popular beaches are so crowded it is standing room only!
Iemanjá is an African divinity, introduced to Brazil by the slaves brought over from Africa in colonial times. She is from the Umbanda and Candoblé religions, daughter of Olokun and Queen of the Sea. She is normally pictured in flowing blue robes, rising from the sea, and plays an important part in cultural traditions and beliefs here.
New Year´s day the beach is littered with roses and you have to be careful where you put your feet because of the thorny stems. I have enjoyed most of these traditions over the years. I remember when we used to take an umbrella, or at least a scarf, to the beach to stop our hair catching fire. People used to let off fireworks so close overhead that sparks would fall on our heads. Eventually wisdom prevailed and letting off fireworks on the beach was banned. Instead every year the council would put on a magnificent display from barges moored offshore - much safer.
Happy New Year!