December 31st is the New Year’s Eve. Customs differ from place to place, but on New Year’s Eve in Spain, we have a very typical tradition of the twelve grapes, which has even spread to other countries in Latin America. Don’t miss out, just read on to find out more about this custom.
The 12 grapes and good luck
After a fantastic dinner on December 31 with the family, we hang out at the table to chat and get ready to eat the 12 grapes for good luck.
The tradition consists in eating 12 grapes (that’s how we do it in Spain) exactly at midnight to start the year off right. According to tradition, if you manage to eat the 12 grapes in time with the chiming of the bells you’ll have a prosperous and very lucky year. Once the bells chime at midnight and you finish the grapes, the new year celebration begins with a shout of joy: Happy New Year! And it’s time to hug and kiss your loved ones while the song from Mecano “Un año más” (One More Year) plays.
It’s said that these 12 grapes, matching the 12 chimes, represent the 12 months of the year. For every grape you eat, you’ll have a month of luck next year. They also say that if you meet the challenge, you can make a wish for the new year.
The Puerta del Sol, Madrid and the iconic clock
The most symbolic place to eat the 12 grapes in New Year’s Eve in Spain is at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, where the clock on the Casa de Correos building is located. This clock is the one that marks the sound and rhythm of the 12 bells, and as each bell chimes you have to eat a grape.
The ringing of the bells is also broadcast on almost all Spanish channels, where you can follow the rhythm of the bells and see the party atmosphere in Madrid on TV. Unfortunately, this year, again because of the pandemic, the ringing of the bells won’t be celebrated in Sol. Nevertheless, we know that traditions are never lost, and we’ll be eating the grapes at home.
Origin of the tradition of New Year’s Eve in Spain
This custom arose at the end of the nineteenth century, when Madrid’s upper class celebrated the end of the year by eating grapes and drinking champagne. It wasn’t until the beginning of the twentieth century that the tradition spread to other areas. It also coincided with a surplus of grape production in the Levante area (a name used to refer to the eastern region of the Iberian Peninsula, on the Spanish Mediterranean coast). This custom has been supported ever since, and the result is that centuries later we continue to celebrate this tradition.
To end the party with a good taste in your mouth…
After a long night of food, drink and partying, there’s nothing better than eating hot chocolate with churros to ease the hangover. So, before we go home on January 1st or New Year, we go to a churreria to start the new year off right. And truthfully, there’s no better excuse to enjoy some good churros and hot chocolate in the middle of winter.
After all this backup info, do you think you can manage to eat 12 grapes in 36 seconds? Well, take the challenge and you’ll be lucky the 12 months of 2022. And this year, we need it more than ever.
Happy New Year!
Would you like to read this article in Spanish and practice your skills? Click here!