Happy New Year

1 Jan

“Feliz Navidad… and I hope you eat all grapes on new year!” one of my students told me on my last day of school as we left for Christmas vacation. (sidenote: look at how good their English is getting!)

In Spain, as well as many latin american countries, it would be unthinkable to ring in the new year without a mouthful of grapes. It’s a tradition that dates back to the 20th century, when creative Spanish harvesters came up with a clever way to get rid of their grape surplus. The tradition says that the best and luckiest way to end the year is by eating 12 grapes – one for each chime of the clock, which signifies each month of the past year.

Not wanting to tempt their fates, the tradition quickly caught on. Who doesn’t want a little luck on their side, anyway? So every New Year’s Eve, which in Spanish is called nochevieja (the old night), crowds gather in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol to watch the ball drop. (Think Time’s Square with older buildings and a lot less lights!) And all across the rest of the country people gather around their televisions to watch the very same event.

But first their attention is directed to the bell tower, where the clock shows the official hour for the country. As the year ends, the bell begins to ring and people begin to stuff – taking care to eat exactly 12 grapes because eating 10 or 13 would have the reverse effect.

While this task may seem daunting for a novice, the clock chimes are actually slowed down a bit to ensure that everyone can end the year with a lucky stroke and then wash it down with a nice glass of champagne after.

Sadly, following the traditions of the Cincinnati bar scene, I’ll have to tell my student that I ate not one grape this year. Things are not looking so good for me on the luck front, I guess. But I have 365 days to practice my grape eating for next year!

Feliz Año Nuevo a todos!

Today’s Word: la uva (n.): grape; as in: ” Be careful not to choke on one of your uvas this New Year’s Eve!”


4 Responses to “Happy New Year”

  1. Grandma and Grandpa January 1, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Interesting tradition Emily – since we don’t have grapes on hand, and are going to the clubhouse for a New Year’s Day party, perhaps some one will have brought grapes. I have a cheese ball and crackers to offer – let’s hope…maybe WINE might be a substitute……Safe travel on January4, 2012, practicing! Love youm GM & GP Feldman

  2. Elizabeth Lonneman January 2, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    I have never heard about eating 12 grapes for good luck. That is so cool! Hope you have a great New Year!

  3. nicole Feldman January 7, 2012 at 12:38 am #

    Hey I’m watching 🙂 Where’s your post?! You got another one to go this week.

    • emily January 8, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

      Thanks for keeping me in check nicole! What would I do without you!?

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