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Why Spaniards eat 12 grapes on New Year's Eve?

One of the most popular traditions on New Year's Eve in Spain is taking twelve grapes at the same time that the bell strikes midnight. However, although most families have a habit of partaking in this ritual at the last supper of the year, few are aware of where the tradition comes from. Therefore, we did some digging and… here you have some theories about how it all began!

The most extended one…

In 1909 farmers in Alicante and Murcia suffered from a surplus of grapes during the fall season. They then chose to promote among neighbours a new ritual that consisted of eating lucky grapes at the last supper of the year, thus encouraging good luck. Since then the custom remained and spread. This anecdote is one of the best known by the Spanish, but there is no record to confirm this theory.

A tradition of French origin


Others claim that Spanish aristocrats were influenced by a custom from the wealthier classes of France. This custom was to conduct private meetings where they served champagne and grapes on the side.

A form of protest against the Mayor of Madrid

In 1882 in the city of Madrid citizens were not allowed to celebrate Christmas in the streets. Noisy activities in Madrid were only allowed on January the 5th, when a great party and parade was promoted to celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men that night to bring gifts to children.

However, in order to attend this party, citizens were required to pay 5 pesetas (a very high amount at the time). This bothered those who could not afford the 5 pesetas and thus began a protest in central Madrid mocking the Mayor and the custom of the bourgeoisie to have grapes on New Year’s Eve, initiating the tradition of eating the twelve grapes every year in the Puerta del Sol Square.

These are some of the theories that have been maintained over time, where would you put your money???

 

 


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