Last week I bought packages of 12 uvas peladas y sin pepitas. For those of you who are castellano challenged, that’s “12 grapes peeled and without seeds.” Why are they called “Lucky Grapes”? That’s because you eat them at midnight on Nochevieja (aka New Year’s Eve) and this is supposed to bring you good luck for the rest of the year.
The clock-tower in Puerta del Sol (“Gateway to the Sun”) in the center of Madrid is the scene of the Spanish version of Times’ Square celebrations in New York City. The building serves as the headquarters for the Comunidad de Madrid (regional government.)
Here in Spain an estimated 14 million people watched on TV as the ball descended above the clock and the “warning bells” sounded. Then the official clock bell peeled twelve times (la campanada). You eat one of the grapes for each sounding of the bell. That’s normally followed by traditional toasts with cava (the Spanish version of champagne).
On TV they have a PIP showing the clock with a large numeral superimposed indicating the number tolls of the bell so that deaf people to follow along. Also, the bell is manually struck so you have enough time to eat each grape.
After the event at midnight, the special entertainment shows on TV continue until 6 am.
On the sidewalk at the base of the regional government’s headquarters is KM 0, from whence road distances all over Spain are measured.
And one last thing about Año Nuevo. Remember that it is año and not ano, unless you want a new asshole!