New Year's Eve

12 lucky grapes, one for each month of the forthcoming year. © Michelle Chaplow
12 lucky grapes, one for each month of the forthcoming year.

New Year’s Eve

Possibly you thought the Christmas season was over on New Year’s Eve, but in Spain this is just the mid-point of all the celebrating. In this country, the tradition is to have a rather late dinner with your family – just one more rich, elaborate dinner, of course, complete with all the pastries, dried fruits and nuts and mountains of turrón that finish every meal at this time of year.

Just before midnight, the ubiquitous television transports the whole of Spain to Madrid’s central Plaza Mayor where glitzy presenters are watching the clock and preparing to down their traditional 12 grapes. Have yours ready – some cheat by taking out the seeds or using the special canned variety on sale everywhere at this time of year – and down them one by one with the chimes of the clock. Eat them all without chocking to death and you’ve earned yourself a dose of good luck for the coming year!

The 12 Lucky Grapes

The 12 Lucky Grapes (Las doce uvas de la suerte) are an old Spanish tradition, each one is eaten in harmony with the 12 chimes of the clock at midnight on the 31st of December. The whole process is not as easy as it looks, especially to keep up with each chime in sequence. According to folklore, the grapes will bring you 12 months of good luck for the forthcoming year. The 12 lucky grape tradition dates back to 1895 and in 1909 there was a bumper grape harvest in Spain, every year since, the whole country has joined in. New year in Spain is just not the same, without the 12 grapes.

After midnight

After midnight the young and free head out into the night to celebrate into the early hours of dawn whereupon they return home to crash before – you guessed it – another huge family meal.

2020 was a little different celebrations were very small and beautiful, with no public gatherings in plazas across the region. The curfew was specially extended until 01.30 hrs.   2022 Everything is back to normal with huge celebrations until the small hours to traditionally welcome in 2023.

We wish you a very happy and healthy New year, don't forget the grapes!