Published: 30 Dec, 2020 CET.Updated: Sun 31 Dec 2023 10:10 CET
As midnight approaches on New Year's Eve everyone across Spain will be clutching a very important talisman: 12 grapes to bring luck and fortune throughout the coming year.
It's essential for each grape to be popped in the mouth on the dong of each stroke of midnight, no mean feat when you are surrounded by giggling friends in a crowd of people.
To make things easier, supermarkets sell cans containing 12 small, seedless grapes, perfect for popping in your pocket and keeping them to hand wherever you decide to celebrate.
But what are the origins of the tradition?
Ask your Spanish friends and see if they will be able to tell you – it will probably be something to do with how it all started with a ploy by winemakers to try and sell off a large surplus of grapes after a particularly fruitful harvest.
That's probably true but its origins are meant to be more proletariat in nature.
The particular tradition of popping a grape in the mouth to the dong of the bells in front of the clock of Madrid’s Puerta del Sol has its origins in a working-class rebellion against a tax imposed in 1882 by José Abascal y Carredano, the mayor of Madrid.
They've told the public to buy seedless, skinless grapes and are even pushing for the time between dongs to be extended from three to five seconds to allow revellers to catch their breath more easily and swallow properly.
People over the age of 65 are also considered to be a high-risk group for suffocation during this tradition and so too are young children, especially those under five.