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Grapes to you

January 3, 2007

I appear to be writing rather prolifically this week…go me. Anyway, I got curious about why they eat the twelve grapes here at Midnight on New Year's Eve, so I did a little bit of internet surfing and here are some of the answers I came up with:

1. This tradition began when after a particularly big grape harvest the king of Spain decided to give everybody grapes to eat on New Year's Eve. (I find this one suspect because it doesn't say which King, or why he got to decide what to do with the excess grapes)

2. It is widely believed that if you can eat 12 grapes in 12 seconds, you will have a prosperous year. (Or you will asphyxiate yourself with grape juice. Happy New Year!)

3. Each grapes symbolizes one month out of the year. (I'm still not sure why eating a month would be good luck, but whatever…)

This one was perhaps the most lyrical explanation:

4. In Spain on New Year's Eve they have New Year's Eve grapes. When the church bells begin to ring, they eat a grape on every stroke of the bell, and after finishing the twelfth one, the New Year starts. They eat grapes reflecting the year in hope of a happy New Year.

And this one is my favorite, because it is very precise:

5. New Year's Eve is big in Spain and on New Year's Eve it is the tradition to wear red underwear but they have to be bought for you by someone else. Most towns organise street parties with entertainment and firework displays that last all night. Most bars and restaurants are open for private parties only. There will be music and dancing and the wearing of the usual party outfits. At the stroke of midnight it is tradition to eat 12 grapes – one on each stroke of the clock to bring good luck for the new year. The grapes are a late variety from Vinalopó near Alicante.

I'm sorry, I just have to call this line to your attention one more time: "There will be music and dancing and the wearing of the usual party outfits."

Priceless. Then there is my own theory, which naturally I'm attached to:

6. Stuffing twelve grapes into your mouth in twelve seconds provokes uncontrollable laughter…always a good way to kick off a New Year.

So, take the tradition for what you will…nobody else seems to have any idea why it started, either. ^_^

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