Lucky Grapes at New Year | Posted: 17 October 2014
Lucky grapes for New Year's Eve
Lucky grapes for New Year's Eve
Lucky grapes for New Year's Eve

Every New Year’s Eve, across the Spanish-speaking world, revellers take a bunch of grapes with them as they head out into the night to say a fond farewell to the old year and to herald in a new one.

This tradition of eating one grape per chime of the midnight hour on New Year’s Eve seems as timeless as the Spanish Sierras themselves – but is it?

It turns out that this ‘centuries-old’ tradition is, in fact, less than two hundred years old. In 1895, a bunch (sorry!) of grape growers from the Alicante area of Spain found themselves with a glut of grapes at the end of the year and no viable outlet.

Rather than see them go to waste, the question was how to get rid of them profitably?

Related Holidays & Further Information

Authentic Alicante

Relax at the welcoming Casa Pilar in the village of Castell de Castells, and sample the excellent cooking at New Year of hosts Pilar and Juan José.

More about our New Year break in Alicante >

Spectacular Salamanca

See in the New Year in style in the historic city of Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Atmospheric Aracena

Discover the sleepy village of Alájar from the friendly Posada de San Marcos, a charming country house, where hosts Ángel and Lucy will treat you like one of the family at New Year.

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The answer they came up with was to promote the idea of eating one for every chime of the midnight clock. If they could persuade everyone to eat twelve grapes each on New Year’s Eve, their troubles were over.

Somewhat surprisingly, it caught on and their quirky PR stunt is now engrained in Spanish culture. It is now a much-loved tradition that has been carried on through the years – and across the world. In fact, in some countries grapes are grown especially for the night and you can even buy special tins containing your twelve grapes.

The ‘rules’ are simple: take twelve grapes (preferably peeled and de-seeded) and a glass of Cava (other effervescent drinks are available) and eat one grape per chime of the clock, helped down with a glug of bubbly. So that’s twelve grapes in twelve seconds – hence the recommendation for the seedless variety. Timing is the crucial factor but different people eat their grapes in a variety of ways. So, what type of grape-eater are you?

Across Spain, the chimes are timed to coincide with the clock on the tower of the Casa de Correos, Madrid's main post office on the Plaza de la Puerta del Sol built in 1768, much as here in the UK we base ours on Big Ben. Bong, chomp, swallow and glug – repeat twelve times during the last twelve seconds of the old year and you will be blessed with good luck for the new one year, hence the name, uvas de la suerte, or ‘lucky grapes’.

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