12 Grapes at Midnight on New Year’s Eve

Text: Every New Year’s Eve, the informant’s family eats 12 grapes within the minute-or-so leading up to midnight. Each grape represents one of the 12 months, and as they eat each grape they make a wish for that month. It is a way for them to bring consistent good luck into the new year.

Context: The informant has participated in this tradition every year as far back as they can remember, and their family is who taught it to them originally. The informant and their family are Argentinian and have always lived in Los Angeles. The informant said that this is their favorite New Year’s tradition because it becomes a fun competition between her and her siblings (as to who can finish the grapes the fastest) and looks forward to it every year.

Analysis: This is far from the first time I’ve heard of this New Year’s tradition, as it seems that many Spanish-speaking cultures partake in similar traditions. Potentially, I could see this tradition as an expression of optimism for the incoming year. I could also see this tradition as a way of trying to attract what you want into the new year, as in class we talked about how many New Years traditions revolve around manifestations during the liminal time that is the transition from year to year. In this case, the grapes might symbolize wealth or luxury.