12 lucky grapes at New Years: A fun and slightly challenging Spanish tradition

Those of you that were lucky enough to celebrate at least one New Years in Spain, would have experienced the bizarre tradition of Las doce uvas de la suerte - the tradition of eating 12 lucky grapes at midnight. If you have never heard of this fun tradition before, keep on reading!

Spaniards love celebrating just about any holiday, but this time of the year brings about a stretch of nonstop festivities that starts over Christmas Eve and ends on Three Kings Day (6 January). I spent Nochevieja (which means new years eve in Spanish) with a really awesome Catalan family in Tarragona about 75km from Barcelona city centre.

30 plus family members traditionally gathered around the dinner table to enjoy in their last meal of 2017 together. Later the heads of the household turned on the TV and started to prepare a cup full of 12 grapes for each family member. Sipping on a glass of Cava (Catalonia sparkling wine), I curiously asked what this tradition was about.

Before getting an explanation I was distracted by 4 bell chimes that came from the television screen. Similar to watching the ball drop at Times Square in New York, Spaniards had gathered around the clock tower of the 18th-century Real Casa de Correos in Madrid's Puerta del Sol enthusiastically waiting for the clock to strike twelve.

Formally dressed presenters were repeating the instructions one last time. And then this happened! At each chime Spaniards put a grape into their mouth. I got so distracted that I almost forgot to do the same. There is little time to chew each grape let alone swallow before the next chime happens. According to tradition those that mange to eat all 12 grapes by the 12th chime will have good luck in the year ahead and for every grape you eat you will have one wish come true. I didn't manage to finish all of them but I did miss out on their sneaky trick - deseeding each grape before midnight!

This is not the only tradition that happens on this night. It is said that wearing red underwear given to you by someone else is also a recipe for good luck for the year ahead.

This tradition dates back to the 1895, and the Philippines have also adopted this tradition as well.

Have you had the privilege of experiencing it? We would love to hear about your experiences!