New Year’s Eve (Nochevieja or Fin de Año) is a time for family celebrations, usually consisting of a meal of shrimps or prawns and lamb or capon. Since 1962 the countdown to midnight has been broadcast on national TV from the clock on the Casa de Correos building in Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid where many people gather to see in the New Year in Spain’s equivalent of the UK’s broadcast from Big Ben.
For just over a century it has been customary to eat a single grape on each chime of the midnight bells. This tradition, known as Las doce uvas de la suerte (The 12 grapes of luck) was actually begun in the early 20th century by vine growers to dispose of a particularly good harvest, but superstition now has it that the practice will lead to a prosperous New Year – as will the wearing of new red underwear on New Year’s Eve. After the bells, fireworks, greetings of “¡Feliz Año Nuevo!” and toasts ensue and many revellers then go on to New Year parties (cotillones de nochevieja) which can last until morning.
The town of Bérchules, on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada in the La Alpujarra region, has a rather unusual tradition. Back in 1994, the town suffered a power outage which disrupted the usual New Year’s celebrations. Not to be deprived, the locals instead held their party on the first weekend in August. New Year’s Eve in August has since become quite a tourist attraction, with visitors swelling the small town’s population of only 800 to around 10,000.
If learning or improving your existing Spanish is one of your New Year’s resolutions, get in touch to arrange Spanish tuition in your home or office throughout the London area.