12 grapes.

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A common story traces the tradition of the twelve lucky grapes, or uvas de la suerte, to grape farmers in Alicante, Spain, who suggested the idea when they had a surplus harvest to unload in the early 1900s. But according to food writer Jeff Koehler, newspaper articles about the tradition from the 1880 suggest it developed from Madrid’s bourgeoisie copying the French custom of drinking champagne and eating grapes on New Year’s Eve.

Either way, Spanish tradition eventually became a superstition that spread to Central and South America. Eating one grape at each of midnight’s 12 clock chimes guarantees you a lucky year—if and only if, you simultaneously ruminate on their significance. (Each grape represents an upcoming month.) If you fail to conscientiously finish your grapes by the time the clock stops chiming, you’ll face misfortune in the new year.

Superstitions tend to be specific, and uvas de la suerte is no different. Most Spaniards eat white Aledo grapes, which farmers in Alicante, Spain, protect from the sun, birds, and other pests by tying paper bags around as they grow. This process, which slows the grapes’ development and allows them to grow a finer skin, produces a grape that’s soft, ripe, and ready to be sold in twelve-packs in December. Now isn’t that lucky?

“you can be drinking the wine today, but picking the grapes tomorrow.”
-jonathan tucker
story and photo credits: gastro obscura, paula mejia

69 responses »

  1. It is always interesting to learn how certain traditions get started. Maybe the more common champagne toast is just a quick and convenient way to insure your grape intake at midnight. Although the alcohol may make conscious rumination a bit trickier!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I asked some friends if they’d heard of this tradition. One of their daughters had lived in Spain and they visited the other daughter in Colombia last Christmas. Sure enough, they did the grape eating last year. Their conclusion: it’s a lot of grapes! And they suggested we start our own Belgian version by eating 12 chocolates…I could get into that. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I like the chocolate idea as well and I wouldn’t miss a minute, since I’m realllllly good at eating chocolate, no matter the time of year. 🙂 We drive ourselves insane with the things we make up. Always we threaten bad luck if we don’t do something. I think we really are crazy as… Sorry, noting to compare us to, since we’re at the top of the list. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  4. We do that 🙂 12 grapes for good luck but we don’t have chimes so we do it at midnight as long as it’s done before 12:01. Fun to think up 12 thoughts with 12 grapes … but it is a handful 🙂 traditions and good luck options 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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