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Spanish New Year

New Year in Spain

Not for Spaniards the heavy stodge of black bun or shortbread. They prefer something altogether lighter to bring in the New Year. To navigate the transition between the old year and the year to come – año nuevo – Spaniards stay at home, and, at midnight, it’s customary to eat las doce uvas (the twelve lucky grapes), one on each stroke of the clock.

It doesn’t matter if they’re red or white, seedless or not, eating 12 grapes is supposed to bring good luck, prosperity, and happiness for the year ahead because they represent each month of the year.

The truth is that the practice became established in 1909, when some of Alicante’s vine growers popularized this custom in order to sell huge numbers of grapes from an excellent harvest.

Before COVID arrived (and ideally again in the future), families or friends usually got together for a delicious dinner and then meet in the central square or any iconic local place to welcome the new year on this special and magic night.

The chiming of the clock is broadcast on TV all over Spain. After eating the grapes, the atmosphere is an explosion of joy, fireworks, confetti, music and dance until the early hours.

This year

This year like the previous one, the excitement will need to be much more contained and restricted in order to protect one another. However, I still encourage you to make the most of it with a physical or virtual toast, good wishes and resolutions.

Let’s be hopeful about 2022 and the good things to come. And above all, don’t forget to prepare your lucky grapes: the race to swallow all twelve before the clock stops chiming is lots of fun and your 5 a day fruit intake will be more than accomplished!

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!\

by Emi Pastor

Read about Spanish Christmas traditions in our earlier post here

 

Spanish Christmas Traditions

A Spanish-style Traditional Christmas by Emi Pastor

Christmas in Spain is not so very different from Christmas elsewhere, but there are one or two traditions that may sound slightly exotic to Scottish ears, and I’ll set them out here.

First of all, our festive period is longer, running from the 22nd December until the 7th of January. We celebrate the end of Christmas with presents brought from faraway lands by the Three Wise Men (traditionally marked by the Epiphany). This, of course, makes the youngest members of the family very merry, but it pleases the grownups too. Traditionally Santa Claus has never been recognised in Spain, but nowadays that is changing, and like the reyes mago” (3 wise men), he now sometimes brings presents too.

The Spanish Lottery

A more recent, and much more secular tradition, is El Gordo, the Spanish Christmas Lottery. This, too, is celebrated on the 22nd of December. It’s the most popular draw of the year in Spain and in fact, is considered the biggest worldwide since it was first celebrated in 1812. Winning El Gordo’s jackpot is one of the best Spanish Christmas presents you could hope for.

As in many other parts of the world, Christmas trees, fancy city lights, and splashes of red, green, and white decorations make their appearance during the festive period. However, something quite particular we have is the Portal de Belén: tiny models of Bethlehem to represent the Nativity, with many accompanying structures such as the desert, town, angel, shepherds and farm animals.

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