las doce uvas de la suerte

Twelve Grapes

There’s a tradition scattered around Latin America, inherited from 19th-century Spain, about grapes on New Year’s Eve.  One eats las doce uvas de la suerte as the old year turns into the new one, assigning each grape a resolution, hope, or desire.  As with many traditions, it was invented for cynical, consumerist reasons, in this case by vintners in Alicante to sell their excess grapes.  It grew into its significance, becoming a magical ritual to ward off ill fortune and mischievous spirits and then into a tradition maintained for tradition’s sake.

My family has consumed las doce uvas de la suerte every year that I can remember, in between glasses of champagne and the din of festive noisemakers and fireworks.  The fireworks and little trumpets and such were well in excess of what my sensory sensitivities deemed tolerable, without fail, but I liked the grapes.

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