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Dominican Republic New Years and Last Name Traditions

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New Years/ Año Nuevo

The traditional Christmas dinner is also served on New Years.

One should clear out the old and start the new year fresh and clean. The house needs to be scrubbed from top to bottom All drawers need to be cleaned out. All this cleaning brings good luck.

Different colors mean different things. Wear the color that brings the wish for the coming year you want to come true. Green/ Verde helps out with the money situation, Red/ Rojo brings a bright future, Yellow/ Amarillo makes work better, White/ Blanco is for good health.

When the clock strikes 12 make sure the doors and windows are open wide so the last years spirit can get out freely and the new one can enter. 

At the end of the year you have to throw out your old brooms. Any broom you happen to have in the home needs to be placed in a corner of the house. Remember to leave the new broom outside overnight before bringing it into the house. I'm not sure why, just to be safe you best do it.

Never sweep the house on New Year's Day. You may end up sweeping your luck away with the dirt.

Make sure to have 12 grapes/ uvos per person. For each toll of the clock or each month of the year you need to eat a grape and make a wish for the coming year.

A traditional jumera for lighting on New Years Eve
You may notice that many of the homes get a new coat of paint for the holidays. This is part of the cleaning everything and making way for the new.

If you are a Catholic you need to have a priest come and bless the house or at least give it a good dousing of holy water.

You need to burn some incense to purifying the home on the eve of the New Year. This tradition goes way back to the native Taino Indians that lived on the island. Many people use a "Jumera". The most typical is made from a can (pictured here +click image to enlarge) with carbon/ charcoal inside. It comes with a small pouch of scent specifically for good luck and chasing away the bad spirits and some sticks for lighting.

+click to enlarge
A traditional jumera for lighting on New Years Eve
Two Last Names / Apellidos.

I'm not very sure about this myself so I decided to write it for myself and others that are confused with this matter.

Hispanic culture uses two last names or apellidos. So lets see if I can get this straight.

Lets use the name Felix Billini Duarte (I just made that up).

Felix is the first name and sometimes there is a middle name also but this made up person does not have one.

Billini would be the first last name of the father (apellido paterno) and Duarte would be the first last name of the mother (apellido materno).

The fathers names: the first last name would be the fathers name and the second last name would be the mothers first last name which would also be called the mothers maiden name.

Thus Felix mother was Anna Duarte Sanchez and the father was Antony Billini Cabral.

Now Anna gets married..

Anna Duarte Sanchez married Antony Billini Cabral.

In the old days if Anna wanted to she could add her husbands last name to hers using "de" thus her married name would be Anna Duarte de Billini. But this is not tradition in modern times. Some also put a little hyphen between their last names as Felix Billini-Duarte if they so desire. 

So this is why Felix has the name Billini Duarte. Dads first last name/ apellido paterno first. Moms first last name/ apellido materno last.

One more time and faster. Here goes...

Antony Billini Cabral and Anna Duarte Sanchez get married. Now their names are...

Antony Billini Cabral and Anna Duarte de Billini (or she just keeps her own name). They have a bouncing baby boy..

Felix is born...his name is now Felix Billini Duarte.

And the line continues. Do you understand now? Use the 2 first last names for the child. The kid drops the 2 last last names.

Married. The women doesn't change the last name.

Looking up a name in the phone book?
In the white pages a persons Father's last name is listed first and the Mother's surname is listed next. As usual, the persons first name is listed last.

ABC order? The same as looking up a name in the phone book. The first last name first, second last name second and their given name is last.Billini Duarte, Felix.

There. Easy is it not?

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