New Year’s Eve in Spain : Grapes and Champagne

We Spaniards and Catalans have our own set of special and funny traditions. And of course, a New Year’s Eve in Spain could not be any different!

New Year's Eve in Spain : Grapes and Champagne - The Solivagant Soul

How things often roll in New Year’s eve in Spain

Although maybe not as much as in Italy, we are often very familiar. It doesn’t matter if you have a big or a small family. In a New Year’s Eve in Spain you all get together. You will eat like there’s no tomorrow. Then, you will pass through the grapes tradition and maybe afterwards you will leave with your friends. Classy and elegant, is one of the nights of the year (along with San Juan) when most of the people go out in fancy clothing and looking right on point.

New Year's Eve in Spain : Grapes and Champagne - The Solivagant Soul

For the “less familiar” guy, there is another option: popular gatherings. Everywhere in Spain, from Madrid to Tenerife, there is a massive accumulation of people in front of some specific settings. The most common one is the Plaza Real in Madrid. A square in the centre of Madrid from where most national TV stations play live the twelve strikes of the bells. About twenty-five thousand people meet there every year and have their grapes and champagne. In Barcelona, we get together and watch an arts show that cumlminates with the twelve grapes.

The grapes tradition

Many different countries have peculiar traditions for the change of the year, and a New Year’s Eve in Spain is no different. American’s kiss when the new year starts. Italians eat lentils. Well, we eat grapes. But not just a bunch of grapes. Nope. We eat 12 grapes, one with each strike of the bell. Each family has it’s own favourite TV channel, although a decade’s long tradition is Ramon and his cape. In the past few years, another channel has become increasingly popular by broadcasting a woman that goes live mostly naked. She has a beautiful body and I am happy she decides to show it, but in a society like ours, she is watched either by men adoring her or women hating her.

The mechanics of the grapes

If you want to spend your New Year’s Eve in Spain, you need to know a few things. Even though we only eat 12 grapes with 12 strikes of the bell, in reality you will hear 16 strikes. That is because the whole show starts with four strikes called “Quarters” that have a slightly different sound. And it is only after them that the real strikes start. I know, it sounds simple but it is not. There have been multiples problems with this. Back in 1989 a woman messed the quarters and real bells and half of Spain missed the time to eat the grapes. Although that is not the only mess they have made… In the 94′ a woman wished to everybody a happy 1964. And kind of yesterday, at the beginning of 2015, one channel started playing adds in the middle of the strikes (by mistake). Here you have the infamous video from that day.

Other traditions for New Year’s Eve in Spain

Another common tradition for New Year’s Eve in Spain is red underwear. Some people say that it must be new red underwear that you must use for the first time during that night. In my opinion, this came from the stores, tbh.

New Year's Eve in Spain : Grapes and Champagne - The Solivagant Soul

Where do these traditions come from?

Well, this is a short answer. No one knows. Regarding the grapes, some people say that it was born as a way to mock the Burguese class many years ago. Others say that it was all a commercial strategy from the grape producers in a year when they had an excess of product. No one knows, but now it is definitely a tradition. Regarding the red underwear, because a similar tradition happens in China, some people have hypothesized that it comes from there.

What about you, are there any special traditions where you are from?

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New Year's Eve in Spain : Grapes and Champagne - The Solivagant Soul

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