SPANISH LUCKY GRAPES TURN 100 (B1)
Spanish lucky grapes turn 100 years old
By h.b. – Dec 28, 2008 – 1:13 PM
Bags of a dozen already prepared grapes are sold in supermarkets – Photo EFE
The Spanish custom of eating 12 grapes at midnight New Year’s Eve, in time with the clock strikes, has only been followed for the past 100 years.
Already adopted also in many Latin American countries, managing to swallow the grapes in time is said to bring you fortune in the New Year.
It’s thought the tradition dates back to 1909 when there was a remarkably good grape harvest, and farmers shared out their fortune, but of course not everyone agrees. Some say those were days of hunger in Spain and the grape harvest would have been small compared to today. Also without today’s refrigeration, getting to the end of the year with so many fresh grapes would be difficult.
It could be that those few remaining grapes were kept as a special last dish of the New Year’s Eve dinner, and that would have taken them close to midnight.
It was not until 1962 when TVE, the Spanish state television started broadcasting the new year chimes from the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, complete with grapes. The chimes which now give you 36.7 seconds to eat your twelve grapes. An error in the mechanism in 1997 saw many Spaniards choking as they tried to complete the task in just 17 seconds.
Nowadays the tradition means that in the last week of the year in Spain between a million and a half and two million kilos of grapes are eaten.
Rich in antitoxins, phosphorus, potassium, iron and vitamins, the grapes are the healthy part of a night generally known for other excesses.
Other New Year eve customs in Spain have lost prominence but there are records of having to eat lentils to ensure riches in the following year, putting money in your shoes to obtain fortune, wearing red or yellow underwear, breaking eggs into a glass of water, all said to bring good luck, and even going for a walk with suitcases to ensure that you travel the following year.
ARE YOU SUPERSTITIOUS? WHAT DO YOU DO TO HAVE A LUCKY YEAR?