A Conversation for Madrid, Spain
Peta Started conversation Oct 17, 1999
A friend of mine who used to live in Madrid told me that they have a big street party and at midnight, everybody eats twelve grapes. This brings you good luck for the coming year.
Quo Vadis Posted Oct 17, 1999
I've heard it that some people (not in Madrid, Spain but in Portugal) eat twelve raisins on New Year's eve as the clock strikes midnight. One with each strike.
Peta Posted Oct 19, 1999
I wonder if that is the reason for the twelve or is there any other significance of the number....
Quo Vadis Posted Oct 19, 1999
Have to pass on that one... I believe it is an old custom... where it all started or its significance, I just don't know. Perhaps someone reading this might come up with the answer.
Interalia Posted Oct 25, 1999
I don't know where the custom came from, but I was told that as the clock strikes midnight, you must eat one grape for each chime of the clock, thus 12 grapes. This is a little harder than it sounds, as grapes in Spain tend to have seeds.
Also, the Plaza del Sol (or just Sol) is the Times Square of Madrid. It's not only the center of the city, but it's where everyone gathers on New Year's Eve. Be careful, though. Things can get a little bit crazy -- fireworks and champagne bottles thrown into crowds of people, for example, not to mention pickpockets. It can be a blast, though, and everyone will be eating grapes.
Coops Posted May 23, 2000
I know this thread is a little old, but I'm just writing to confirm all that's said above - I lived in Madrid for 18 months and went down to PUERTA Del Sol (NOT Plaza) for New Year. Yes, there are fireworks thrown around, people with foam cannisters spraying everywhere, and yes, when the clock strikes everyone eats grapes. The only problem is, like at Big Ben, you can't actually hear the clock cos of the crowd, so everyone just stuffs their faces while avoiding the fireworks. Apparently the hospitals around the area are all on standby with sink plungers ready for the first casualties with grape seeds lodged in their gullets.
A leetle background on Puerta del Sol (Door of the Sun): it's the focal point not only of Madrid, but of Spain itself, as it contains the 'Zero KM' brass paving stone outside the council buildings, from which every distance in Spain was measured (not sure exactly when). It has no fewer than 12 roads running into and out of it, and it also holds the statue symbolising Madrid, the bear eating from the orange tree, a popular meeting place.
Jessica's Dad Posted May 26, 2000
I think the bear is with a madroño, not an orange tree.
Incidentally, the Spanish supermarkets sell little cans
containing 12 grapes in the run-up to the new year, just
to make things really convenient.
Samulus Posted Jul 18, 2000
I also heard (from a Spanish friend) that you're supposed to make twelve wishes as you eat the grapes, one with each grape.
I don't know whether they come true, but I suppose it makes it more interesting.... that is, if you find that eating twelve grapes complete with seeds in quick succession just isn't enough of a challenge!
Alatriste Posted Sep 23, 2000
O.K., so what are the twelve grapes thing?. Despite what most people think this tradition is not so old. It began around the middle of this century (I mean the XXth), when the grape producers had too many grapes for the market. So they decided to give them away and, as a celebration, on New Year´s eve, to eat them at the same time the bell of the clock signaled it was New Year.
Now this fact is not known for most of the Spaniards, as we eat the grapes without knowing why. It is just a tradition. And it is not only in Madrid (Puerta del Sol), but in the whole of the country. Families sit together and have dinner, and at 12 o´clock switch on tv and watch the clock at Puerta del Sol, and eat the grapes.
Some make wishes, some not. Some even eat olives instead of grapes. But you can´t leave the year without eating the grapes!!
Sylphadora Posted Feb 20, 2007
I'm Spanish. You're right, it's an old custom. The tradicion started due to an economic reason. It started in 1909, when a group of farmers from Alicante, a region in the east of Spain, had a very big crop of grapes. They had cultivated so many grapes that they didn't know what to do with them so as to not waste them. So they had an idea and told people that if they ate 12 grapes following the strokes of the clock in New Year's Eve they would be lucky the New Year.
People really liked the idea so they did it the next year, and the next, and the next, up until now, when we keep doing it and it's very popular!! I personally love the tradition because it's very funny!! In most countries people just do a countdown, so it's good to to something different.
Some of you were wondering why there are exactly 12 grapes. That's because in midnight the clock chimes 12 times, one for each hour!! So one chime, one grape. I have never been in Puerta del Sol when eating the grapes, but I live very near, and when I finish eating the grapes and everybody starts greeting everbody I can hear the fireworks!!
And yes, grapes here do have seeds!! XD But some food companies sell in Christmas little cans of peeled and seedless grapes. Each can has 12 grapes, so you buy one can per person. It's more expensive than buying a bunch of grapes but eating the seeds it's very irritating, and people buy those cans just one a year, so we don't mind!! XD
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