December 13th, 2010
The countdown to Christmas is on and even though the Spanish wait for the 6th of January to hand out the Christmas presents, in between there is the anticipated welcome to the New Year. Will you be in Spain? Then do as the Spanish, might be a bit different to the other parts of the world but that is what makes it that extra bit of fun. So how do the Spaniards welcome in the New Year?
12 Grapes and Watching TV
New Year in Spain is known as “Nochevieja” and is a both a family event mixed with all night partying. The night tends to start with a large family gathering at home with a big feast and a lot of food. Then when the time approaches the family gathers around the TV, each with 12 grapes in their hands. When in Spain on New Year’s it is extremely important to have the 12 grapes for the strike of midnight. The 12 grapes are eaten one by one during the countdown for the 12 last seconds and will bring good luck for the coming year. The grapes represents the months of the year, so for each one eaten it will bring a month of good luck. The eating of the grapes is a big tradition and you will see the supermarkets filled with grapes in the days leading up to the New Year. Make sure to get yours in time! Something wonderful is that they even sell small cans especially for new years with contain exactly 12 grapes. Having learnt from experience, if you would not get the ready made cans then make sure that you pick small grapes…It can be quite difficult to eat 12 grapes in 12 seconds! The tradition originates from about 100 years ago when in Alicante there was a large production surplus from the harvest and the grapes were given away, and nowadays this is a strong tradition in the Spanish households.
With the grapes ready everyone gathers around the television and watch the direct broadcast on TV from Puerta del Sol in Madrid. This is done every year with the most popular TV hosts whom will welcome in the New Year to the whole nation with the background of the great ambience at the Puerta del Sol in the countries capital. At the stroke of midnight one celebrates and cheers with Cava – the Spanish Sparkling wine, and then the night has started. Mind-blowing fireworks displays will be shown in some parts of the country, but this usually tends to be in the bigger cities. The New Year’s celebration begins and will continue to the early (late) hours in the morning.
Another Odd Tradition…Red Underwear
Yes, it is true; the other strange tradition in Spain during New Years is to wear red underwear. The red underwear should be given to you and is to be worn on New Year´s Eve; this is to bring good luck for the upcoming 12 months. All over the shopping centers, markets, and stores you will find red underwear being sold before New Year’s. The tradition dates back to the Middle Ages when it was prohibited to wear red as it was associated with witchcraft, the devil and blood. However the people would instead wear red underwear that couldn’t be seen as they believed that red was a symbol of life especially during the dark winter months.
In the Village of La Font de la Figuera close to Valencia they even have a Red Underwear Run each year! The locals strip down to their underwear and run through the streets to celebrate the New Year, if you want to join in remember you must wear red underwear and that it might be quite cold!