Dominican New Year’s Traditions

Dominican New Year's Traditions

This post was originally published on December 26, 2018 and updated on December 25, 2019.

The Dominican Republic is known for its wild party spirit, but it is also a deeply religious country. For Dominicans, New Year’s or Año Nuevo is a time for preparing for the year ahead and cleansing yourself of the past year.

New Year’s Clean

You may have heard of a Spring Clean, but the Dominican New Year’s Clean is a much bigger deal. Dominicans who participate in this tradition will clean their houses very thoroughly, scrubbing every surface, clearing every drawer, and throwing out old, unwanted things.

Traditionally, once the house looks shiny and new, you throw out the old brooms. This has to happen before midnight, or you might bring bad luck into the New Year. There is strictly no sweeping to be done on New Year’s Day. New brooms tend to be kept outside the house until the new year begins, just in case.

It’s common for Dominicans to give their house a fresh coat of paint for the occasion. If you visit the DR in January, look out for the freshly painted coloured houses!

Dominican New Year's Traditions

Midnight – El Cañonazo!

When the clock strikes midnight, the New Year is greeted with a bang! Streets and homes are filled with cheering and exuberant hugging of friends and family. Anyone who happens to be about on the street is included in the celebration, too! Fireworks might be set off, and the party begins.

12 grapes are eaten, one on every toll of the clock, and you can make as many wishes as you can manage!

Before hitting the fruit bowl, make sure all the doors and windows are flung wide open. This enables the old year spirits to fly out and the new ones to come in.

It’s also a Taino tradition to burn incense in a Jumera, a special tin can lantern with coal and smells to bring good luck in the New Year.

Fresh Clothes

Out with the old and in with the new! You’ll see Dominicans dressing to impress for the New Year’s celebrations. It’s common to buy a whole new outfit, if you can afford it, to start the year totally afresh.

The colour of your new clothes is significant, so style yourself carefully. Each colour represents a different wish for the year ahead. Green is for financial prosperity, white for health, yellow for work ethic and opportunities, and red for a better future.

Party Hard

After a traditional meal with family and close friends at home, the Dominicans usually hit the town. This might be a beach party, or a club.

Wherever the party’s at, the Dominicans are in their element. They will dance and rejoice until the sun comes up, and beyond! It’s important to start the year as you mean to go on: in a spirit of joy and celebration!

New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day is usually a chill affair, spent with family in rest and often prayer for the future.

Some households will have a priest come to bless the house with holy water and spoken blessings. For many in this Catholic country, this is a key part of transitioning from one year into the next. Old, stale spirits must be banished fully so that new, fresh spirits can be received into the home.


If you’re more of a creature of calm than a party animal, join us at eXtreme, in partnership with The Yoga Loft, for a cleansing New Year’s retreat by the ocean.

What better way to greet the New Year than by nourishing the body and mind in a tropical beach paradise? Our teachers will lead you in movement, meditation and restorative practice, so you can fill up with positive energy for the year ahead. Book fast, as this opportunity always sells out fast!

Whatever your scene, you won’t be disappointed by the joyful celebrations in Cabarete over New Year’s. The beach is always the place to be, and you will be welcomed to the festivities by the warm Cabarete community of locals and expats!

Don’t forget to shout ‘Feliz año nuevo’!