Monday, May 11, 2015

New Year's Eve: Grapes and Good Luck

Many Americans have a love/hate relationship with New Year's Eve. There is so much pressure to do something "awesome" to celebrate the new year that people spend too much time stressing about it. In Spain, there is a pretty set celebration itinerary that is repeated year in and year out.

To start off New Year's Eve, young people usually eat dinner at home with their families. At midnight, everyone in the nation turns on their TVs to watch the clock strike the new year broadcasted from the heart of Spain, Madrid's Plaza del Sol. For each of the 12 chimes of the clock, Spaniards eat a grape for luck. Legend has it, if you fail to eat all 12 grapes before the clock strikes midnight, you will have bad luck in the new year. This tradition of grape eating is so serious that residents of Madrid gather the night before to do a practice run on December 30th! A small disaster occurred this year on a local Spanish channel. By mistake, the broadcasters cut to commercials during the midnight hour. When they finally returned the coverage, several chimes had been missed. Having no warning the clock was striking midnight, the viewers were caught totally off guard. Some began popping all the grapes at once, hoping to catch up. Others just sat is bewilderment, not grasping the fact that the TV programmers had bungled it and caused the misfortune of a whole Spanish town. Pobrecitos.

To see the bungled New Year's Eve broadcasting and a compilation of people's reactions, click below:

After (hopefully) putting away the grapes and gaining a year's worth of luck, the Spanish youth put on their fancy outfits and meet with their friends around 2:00 or 3:00 AM. A few hours are passed with friends at a house party until it's socially acceptable to hit the discotecas around 5:00 or 6:00 AM. The whole night ends when the discotecas clear out and partiers head to the local cafes for churros and chocolate.

My first Galician New Year's Eve was pretty spot on. The frigid temperatures did not put a damper on the festivities. Living up to expectations, my husband and I made it home at 9:00 AM. (Yes, 9:00 AM!)

Eating our grapes out of conch shells seemed appropriate in coastal northern Spain. 
Churros and chocolate at 8:00 AM. Hashtag Success.

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