You Won’t Believe This Spanish New Year’s Food Tradition

It’s almost time for a new year and a new decade! At the stroke of midnight on December 31st, we will move into the year 2020, a new year full of possibilities.

The symbolic meaning of the new year is recognized around the world, and different people in different places have different ways of commemorating and celebrating the transition. One of the most interesting food-based traditions takes place in Spain.

In this Southern European country, the final 12 seconds of the “old” year are accompanied with a very curious tradition that involves grapes.

As Spaniards watch the year come to a close live, on TV, or in person at Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, people put a single green grape into their mouths at each of the final 12 strokes of the clock on New Year’s Eve.

This tradition isn’t based on any type of religious ceremony or folkloric tradition, but it was actually born as a way of stimulating the grape economy in Spain. In 1909, there was a great surplus of grapes in the southeastern region of Alicante, and the grape growers created and publicized this now-classic tradition.

The 12 grapes are now said to represent good luck in the New Year and are an important part of all Spanish households’ New Year’s Eve traditions.