By Jack E. George Vía Baja.com
The tradition originated in Spain and has now been adopted by Mexico and many Latin American countries for their New Year’s Eve celebrations. It sounds simple: Eat 12 grapes in 12 seconds. The timing is crucial and needs to coincide with the final 12 seconds of the year — in Madrid, Spain, it occurs in conjunction with the ‘blong’ of the clock on the city’s Puerta del Sol as it strikes the final notes of the year. It is important to be near a clock tower or some other chiming device that will offer you the precise time you need in order to ‘count down’, and properly follow the requirements of this particular tradition.
The Luck of the 12 Grapes on New Year's Eve
The Twelve Grapes of Luck, also known as ‘las doce uvas de la suerte’, dates back to the late 1800’s. However, it became more prevalent in 1895 when the grape growers had a huge crop of grapes harvested in the Alicante area of Spain. The growers in the area proposed the promotion of “The 12 Grapes” in order to help sell the large quantity of grapes. They promoted the New Year’s idea and the tradition has been carried on through the years.
In Baja California‘s wine country in the Valle de Guadalupe, grapes are abundant and this tradition is flourishing.
In some parts of the world, you can actually purchase a tin containing the needed 12 grapes.
But, as is more typical in Mexico, you can also purchase regular grapes in advance, remove the seeds, peel them, or do whatever you choose in order to prepare them — and you — for what needs to happen next: the quick chewing and downing of the ‘luck grapes’ before the chimes stop chiming and the New Year begins.
What is the significance of following this tradition? Well, it is said that if you eat the 12 grapes within the 12 seconds before the New Year, each one on the strike of the clock, that this will bring you good luck throughout the New Year. Other people make wishes and believe that following the tradition will grant them their wishes. Some people actually believe that the successful eating of the grapes will ward off witchcraft.