The Night All of Spain Falls Silent

What is travel good for if not to gain a few new traditions? This New Year’s we were initiated into the Spanish tradition of eating twelve green grapes at midnight.

The tradition dates back to 1895 and was said to help ward off witches and other generalized evil. But fifteen years later, after a huge grape harvest, a few growers popularized the tradition and it’s been part of the cultural fabric of Spain ever since.

Grapes on skewers for easy party planning. Photo via.

We simply had to take part. R made his way to a grocery to pick up some of the little green morsels while I stayed warm in our hotel room (I am still a little sick with this cold). We made ourselves a couple of adult beverages and waited. The park under our hotel window, which swarmed with people during the day, was deserted. There were a lot of firecrackers going off deep in the distance; mostly the little poppers, but some that I swear were M-80s. They are not afraid here. Oh, no. They are not afraid.

I washed the grapes and prepared them. Twelve each, laid out for easy eating. The moment arrived, the countdown filled the screen of our little television, and then, for each of the twelve times the bells tolled, we popped a grape in our mouths. While the rest of the world howled, the Spaniards (and us) were quiet. All of us chewing our way to twelve happy months to come. It’s not easy to get through them all in time. We both had a mouth full of grapes at the end and a lot of laughs.

I think this is one we might take home with us.

Happy New Year to all of you. May you be happy. May you be well. May you live in peace in this world. May you be safe. May you cultivate a deep and abiding friendship with yourself and with all of life. May you be free.



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