We Spaniards love to ring out the old and ring in the new as much as anyone else on the planet. And whilst we of course share many NYE practices with the rest of the world (at least the Western world, I guess), there are several which are fairly unique to our country – and here´s a quirky quintet of them:
Toasting with Bubbles - but with a Twist
Of course all of Spain raises a glass of cava (the méthode-Champegnoise sparkling wine – from sweet to dry – made in Catalonia) to toast in the new year and tradition has it that for that extra edge of the year ahead bringing prosperity, Spaniards drop a gold object into the glass before the toast. A wedding ring or another bit of bling will do the trick for finances, but if it's love you´re after, some say plunking in a red fruit such as a strawberry or raspberry will make sure you meet that special someone. And remember: for the charm to work you need to down the cava in one gulp!
Grapes by the Lucky Dozen
As midnight approaches on New Year’s Eve, many thousands of people across Spain will be clutching an important good-luck charm: 12 uvas (grapes) to bring fortune throughout the next 12 months. (LINK)
The idea is to pop one grape into your mouth as each stroke of midnight chimes. And it´s actually trickier than it sounds – chewing and swallowing one quickly in time to gulp the next one, and especially if you happen to be standing in a crowd surrounded by giggling friends or family. Supermarkets and shops cater to this by selling packages of a dozen seedless grapes to pop at a moment´s notice.
(And an interesting historical note: this tradition dates back to 1882, when a Scrooge-like Madrid mayor imposed a tax (!) on holiday parties, discriminating against the less well off – so a bunch of workers staged a “protest” celebration in downtown´s Puerta del Sol, popping a grape at each ring of the bell to make fun of upper-crust dining customs.
Also keep in mind that you´ll want to try to chew the grapes thoroughly to avoid choking, with old folks and young kids especially at risk)
Underneath, Go Red!
For those looking for love in the coming year, the belief is that wearing red underwear will make it happen (though claim say that it only works if these undies are a gift, and others hold that you need to give them away before dawn – er, whatever).
Put Your Best Foot Forward
For good luck in 2024, you should make sure not just to take your first step after midnight with your right foot but also for your first other major steps in the new year, like getting home that morning, leaving your house the next day, arriving at work, and so forth. Hey, what can it hurt, right?
Down Some Lentils on January 1st
Want more good fortune, as well as a boost to your wallet? Start your year off with a tasty dish of these lucky little legumes, And as it happens, lentejas estofadas (lentil stew) is a tasty classic of Spanish cuisine, with chorizo sausage, diced potatoes, and a smattering of veggies. And why lentils, you might wonder? Well, the little round buggers are said to resemble tiny coins, representing wealth. Again, whatever – it´s a tasty and healthy start to the year, so why not?
Feliz Año Nuevo to all!