Eating 12 Grapes on New Year’s Eve in Spain

Agustina Pascual from Spain

For a long time, Spanish people have had a traditional custom of celebrating New Year’s Eve. On the last day of the year, the 31st of December, they wait until twelve p.m. Everybody has to have twelve grapes ready to eat when the clock starts to chime. It is traditional to eat them as you hear the clock from Puerta del Sol in Madrid chiming.


When it is midnight, each time the clock chimes, they put a grape in their mouth. By the time the clock has finished chiming, everybody has to have finished their grapes and the New Year starts, but nobody ever finishes eating the grapes on time.

Eating the grapes is very funny because everybody starts the New Year with a full mouthful of grapes. It’s almost impossible to finish eating the grapes by the time the clock finishes chiming. Normally people still have all the grapes in their mouths, and they start looking at each other and have to laugh.

You can imagine what would happen if they laughed with all the grapes in their mouths. It’s really difficult to have a second to swallow them. I think you can imagine the rest of the story.

This tradition started in Spain because one year when there was a big grape harvest, the king of Spain decided to give grapes to everybody to eat on New Year’s Eve.