How the Spanish celebrate New Year’s Eve tonight

It’s nearly time to celebrate! Credit: Shutterstock/1246090939

TONIGHT in Spain many families will get together to celebrate ‘Noche Vieja’, the new year celebration. 

Noche Vieja directly translates to ‘old year’, and Spain celebrates December 31 as the last night of this old year that we are leaving behind. Unlike some other countries where it is common for people to leave the house and party in bars and clubs, here in Spain the festivities take place at home for many until midnight, as it is a tradition to eat 12 grapes, one at each chime of the clock. 

Although it may sound easy, this is actually no easy task, and tradition states that anyone who manages all 12 grapes, without choking, will have 12 months of prosperity. 

It is important to be careful when attempting this challenge because, although fun, there have been a small few casualties over the years. Alongside the grapes at midnight, it is also typical to drink Cava, and say a “cheers” to the new year that has been brought in. 

After the grapes and Cava, the real party begins, for some still at home, with singing and dancing, and for others in nightclubs, and continues well into the next morning.

Another tradition that is unique to Spain during New Year’s Eve, and may sound strange to some, is to wear red underwear. The red underwear should be given to you, imagine bumping into your friend at the shop and she tells you, “I’m just buying red underwear for my brother” !. It is to be worn on December 31 in order to bring good luck for the upcoming 12 months.

In many shopping centres, markets, and stores you will find red underwear being sold before New Year’s Eve in Spain. This interesting tradition actually comes from the Middle Ages when it was prohibited to wear red as it was associated with witchcraft, the devil and blood. However, people would therefore wear red underwear because it could not be seen, as they believed that red was a symbol of life, especially during these dark winter months.

Tomorrow, January 1, is a public holiday, generally reserved for recuperating from the festivities! Most shops are closed and people in Spain tend to stay at home to recover or just rest. 

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Written by

Jennifer Popplewell

Jennifer is a proud northerner from Sheffield, England, who is currently living in Spain. She loves swimming in rivers, talking to the stars and eating luxurious chocolate.