12 grapes

BACKGROUND: My informant, IC, was born in the US. His entire family is from Ecuador and is bilingual (English and Spanish). IC and I were having a conversation about our families and party customs among immigrants and he brought up this custom that his family uses for good luck.

CONTEXT: This piece is from a conversation with my friend. We originally started talking about our families and the different family parties we’ve been to and that eventually morphed into IC explaining a custom his family has on New Year’s.

IC: For new years, there’s 12 grapes that are meant to represent the 12 months in a year. Right before the new year, when it’s like 11:59, you eat all the grapes. Basically, after each grape you eat, you have to like, make a wish. Oh and — oo! Wait… (long pause) I’m literally stupid as sh-t, I just remembered um, during the new year too, like once it hits 12, you need to throw rice around your whole house. It’s supposed to be so that the next year you have food.

THOUGHTS: This custom is interesting to me because I feel like it is much more in line with the idea of the new year being a time of celebrating change and preparing for the future. In American culture, it is customary to give someone a kiss at midnight for good luck. The 12 grapes however are almost like 12 different resolutions, preparing the person for what they want in the coming year.