New Year’s Eve and its Traditions
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New Year’s Eve and its Traditions

As you may know, Christmas time in Spain doesn’t end with New Year’s Day. In fact, the New Year falls right in the middle of the celebrations. So New Year’s Eve isn’t imbued with the same special familial sentiment of Christmas Eve or the childish fun of the Epiphany. In fact the end of the year is a more informal celebration; a time for being with friends and for going out on the town… or for avoiding arguments between romantic couples.

It’s not anything official, but many married couples share the holidays between their respective families; for example if you have spent Christmas Eve with your family, you would go to your partner’s house for New Year’s Eve. Of course, wherever you go, be prepared to see some of the country’s most interesting traditions on New Year’s Eve.

We’ve already written about the custom of eating 12 grapes and about how this tradition came out of an excess of grapes from the Vinalopó region in 1909; but what about those who don’t like grapes? Since it is not a religious tradition, there’s no reason to keep it up, so many people who aren’t excited about eating 12 little pieces of pesky fruit, eat 12 olives, take 12 sips of wine, or eat 12 gummy candies instead.

New Year’s Eve is also an entertaining night because of all of the superstitions associated with it, and especially since many people follow so many superstitions all in one night. Here are a few of the ones that stand out the most.

  1. Wear new red underwear: Red is the color of luck and passion. Some people think that the custom comes from the Middle Ages (as usual) and talk about when it was outlawed to conjure up good luck with the “color of the devil.” But to get around that law people wore this color where nobody could see it (under their clothes).
  2. Throw a gold ring into a glass of champagne (or cider): From what we know, the sparkling bubbles symbolize “a sparkling life” and the gold, luck. Many people believe however, that it is better to save one’s breath than to wish for an uncertain fortune.
  3. Jump on one’s right foot: This one comes from the saying “levantarse con el pie derecho” (or “get off on the right foot”), which refers to starting the day off in a good mood and with good luck.
  4. Burn negative things: Many people write bad things from the previous year on a piece of paper and burn it with a candle or a lighter. This is nothing new, just think of the Bonfires of San Juan or las Fallas. Even so, it is always better to burn a little piece of paper than a huge statue if you’re in your living room.
  5. Open all the windows: This tradition is to rid the house of “bad energy.” But we think it may just have been invented by a diplomatic hippie mom wanting to air out the charged atmosphere of a house full of relatives.

There are many more traditions and superstitions, and every year new beliefs pop up. So you can just imagine what a spectacle New Year’s Eve in a Spanish home is!