At Pretty Lady Vineyards, we find great joy, luck, and prosperity come from working with grapes throughout the year. But there’s an old Spanish tradition that insists grapes and luck truly go hand in hand: right at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.
The tradition has been around since the turn of the 20th century. Back then, a group of growers in the province of Alicante of Eastern Spain popularized the practice of having people eat 12 grapes on New Year’s as a symbol of good luck for the coming year (a brilliant and effective marketing strategy, right?) As the tradition was embraced by more and more people, it spread across Spain, Europe, and then many other parts of the rest of the globe. In our modern word, the custom is very popular in Hispanic cultures, The Philippines, and right here in the United States. In some places in the world, people believe the act of eating grapes right when midnight strikes on December 31st can even help ward of witches and evil spirits. In fact, many individuals in Spain take part in the act more out of superstition now than anything else. It’s not just that eating 12 grapes at midnight can help you have good luck in the coming 12 months; it’s that not doing so might bring about bad luck!
Most versions of the practice involve eating 12 grapes right at midnight, oftentimes in sync with the 12 strikes of the hour. While this added challenge isn’t necessarily required, it does make for a fun competition, assuming everyone plays safely and is careful not to choke. On that note, of course we recommend seedless grapes for this activity!
Grapes aren’t the only food people eat for good luck on New Year’s. Other traditions around the world include eating:
- Collard Greens: Supposedly, they signify money because they resemble…money!
- Beans and/or Black-Eyed Peas: These also resemble money- coins, that is. In the American South, beans are mixed with bacon and rice for a special New Year’s dish called Hoppin’ John.
- Soba: Traditional to Japan, soba is meant to symbolize resiliency and long life.
- Pork: This one is popular in many cultures across the world for a multitude of reasons. Our favorite correlation is that pigs move forward when they eat, so eating them symbolizes moving forward in life. (Kind of morbid, but also adorable, right?)
- Fish: Like our pig friends, their own behavior is what got them on this list! People who honor the tradition say that fish swimming forward represent progress and fish swimming in schools, abundance. (For you. Not for the fish, obviously.)
- Ring-Shaped Cakes: This tradition started in Greece. The round cakes symbolize the year coming full circle and another new year beginning.
- Dumplings: This is a Chinese tradition. Dumplings are shaped like gold ignots- ancient Chinese currency- so eating them is supposed to bring financial fortune.
Regardless of what New Year’s Eve tradition you take part in (even if it’s just toasting champagne and kissing someone special with the ball drops), we want to wish you a safe, happy holiday and look forward to *seeing* you more in 2020.