Moving into a New Year

It looks like Andalucia has seen the New Year in with style.

Would you believe that some 70,000 people said goodbye to 2007 around the Rocio Shrine in Huelva? It seems that the area's capacity to handle large groups has turned the pilgrimage trail and facilities into a popular place for entire clans and groups of friends to go spend New Year's Eve and the first few days of the year.

However, at midnight last night, all eyes were on Jaen this year as our regional public television and radio - Canal Sur - covered the 12 strokes of the clock from that emblematic Andalusian city. (And by the way, if you haven't visited the castle that tops that city, you must add that to this year's agenda. Thanks to a new access road it's practically a straight shot from the main motorway and the views from the top are unbeatable).

I think I have finally tracked down the reason why we all struggle to down the 12 "lucky" grapes with each last stroke of the clock every year. Didn't quite expect it to all come down to economic reasons - but it seems there was an overproduction of grapes in 1908 and someone came up with the bright idea of getting the whole country to incorporate the crop into the end of the year celebrations. That's history and it looks like this coming year we will mark the 100th anniversary of the "uvas de la suerte".

It has been especially interesting to follow the Spanish holiday press this year and listen to the radio tertulias as I've noticed high interest on the part of our Andalusian friends and neighbours regarding how we foreigners might be spending the holidays here in the south of Spain and what customs we might have for seeing out the old year and greeting the new one.

So, why not click on our comment button below and tell us what you've been up to this holiday season? Have you adopted Spanish ways? What elements of your own customs do you keep alive even as you enjoy the sunshine in this southernmost corner of Europe?

Blog published on 1 January 2008