New Year’s Eve, that last day when we wrap the year and look forward (even writing a list of resolutions) to starting the next one.
In Spain, celebrating this day usually begins with a dinner. Unlike Christmas Eve, which is totally about family, New Year’s Eve focuses on the celebration, so some people dine with their family, while others eat with friends. After a hearty dinner, with appetizers like seafood and cold cuts and a main dish that’s usually roasted meat, we prepare for the key moment of the night: eating grapes as the clock chimes midnight.
Unlike other countries, where you count down until you reach midnight and the change of year, in Spain we wait until twelve and eat a grape each time the bell tolls, that is, 12 grapes.
It’s said that this practice brings good luck if you can eat them all in time with the tolling of the bells. The most famous clock to listen to the bells chime is the clock in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor. Many people gather in the square to eat the grapes right there and get the party started. However, most people eat them watching the countdown on television, where famous personalities do special programs to usher us into the new year. Some people like the grapes without skin, others without seeds, others just as they are… children even replace them with the famous Lacasitos (Spanish chocolates similar to M&MS).
In addition to eating the grapes, there are other rituals on this night, for example, you should wear red underwear for good luck and you can also put a gold ring inside your glass of champagne before toasting to the new year.
After eating the grapes, toasting with champagne, and wishing your loved ones a happy new year, the party begins. For many, it’s the biggest party of the year, and that’s why you can see very elegant looks on the streets. Men usually wear a suit and women dresses. To attend a party you need to have bought a ticket beforehand that usually includes the famous cotillón, a bag having various party items to dress yourself up and enliven the party: wigs, hats, glittery accessories, noisemakers, etc., everything you need to make the party last until the next morning.
If you’re one of those who can last until dawn, you can finish by eating some churros with hot chocolate, which will give you the energy to make your way back home.
The next day, January 1st, is usually about rest and nursing your hangover, but more than a few add one more ritual: eating a plate of lentils to bring abundance in the new year.
And what about you? How do you finish the year in your country? What if you try to eat 12 grapes this year?
Good luck and Happy Holidays!
Foto de la portada de martin-dm.