12 Grapes for New Year: A Spanish Tradition
12 grapes for Xmas

12 Grapes for New Year: A Spanish Tradition

Lucky Grapes

Eating 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve is the traditional way to welcome the New Year in Spain. The grapes are considered lucky las doce uvas de la suerte (“the 12 lucky grapes”). They have to be eaten one at a time with each of the twelve chimes of midnight.

clock on big ben
Clock face on Big Ben

The Bells

Spaniards listen to the bells on the clock tower of the 18th-century Real Casa de Correos in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. UK New Years Eve celebrations centre around the bells of Big Ben above the Houses of Parliament in London.

red underwear for new years eve
Buying Red Underwear for New Years Eve

Red Underwear

Each grape represents one of the twelve months to follow and the superstitious Spanish believe that you need to wear a piece of red underwear given to you by someone else while eating them to guarantee good luck.

12 grapes for xmas

Along with the underwear you need to have swallowed all twelve grapes by the final toll of the bell.

Tips and Tactics

To make grape swallowing easier and quicker:

  • Get small green seedless grapes
  • Try not to laugh (not easy)
  • Concentrate on the bongs, you have about 2 seconds for each grape
  • Use authentic Spanish tinned seedless peeled grapes.
  • Line up the grapes and pop them in, in tune with the bongs
  • Halve the grapes beforehand (good for children)

By the way, stuffing them all in your mouth at once or starting before the first bong is cheating and you may suffer the consequences.

12 grapes for Xmas
Tins 0f 12 Seedless Peeled Grapes

If you can down the grapes while under the influence of alcohol, without descending into fits of giggles, and without gagging while all the time wearing the requisite red undergarment then you deserve the good luck they will bring.

12 grapes for Xmas

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