I have been lucky enough to experience New Year celebrations in Spain several times in recent years and it is very different to here in the UK! The most unique part of a Spanish New Year is the tradition of eating 12 grapes as the clock chimes midnight – las doce uvas de la suerte. In this blog post we will look at the origins of this Spanish New Year tradition.
According to many people the reason behind this dates back to 1909 when a surplus stock of white grapes was produced in Almeria, Murcia and Alicante. However, this may not be the true story.
Other reports say that the tradition began much earlier than this, in the 1800s in fact, when it was common for upper class people to eat grapes and drink champagne at New Year. Then, one year a group of working class people from Madrid, madrileños, decided to do away with this snobbishness and took some grapes and sipped on champagne at the Puerta del Sol square in the centre of Madrid. This is Spain’s equivalent of Trafalgar Square in London or Times Square in New York. This has now become today’s tradition of the New Year grapes, “las doce uvas de la suerte” being televised from the Puerta del Sol in Madrid. Many people gather in the square and other main squares in towns and cities throughout Spain to take part in the 12 grapes tradition.
For those people not wishing to venture out, they stay at home for a big family dinner and eat the 12 grapes whilst watching the clock chimes from Madrid on the television.
According to the tradition if you manage to eat all 12 grapes, putting one in your mouth on each chime of the clock you will have good luck and prosperity throughout the following year. Hence the name “12 lucky grapes”.
As it is quite difficult to get all 12 grapes in your mouth at once it would make sense to choose smaller, seedless grapes.
¡Feliz Año Nuevo!