“In Spain, at midnight of New Years Eve, eat one grape each time the clock strikes the 12 chimes.”
My aunt, a high school Spanish teacher who has traveled to Spain tens of times, observed this tradition when she was in Spain this past new year.
According to her, every time the clock strikes a chime at 12, midnight at the turn of the year one eats a grape. 12 grapes in 12 seconds. She says that the grapes are for good luck and good fortune in the new year. She describes that some peel the skin or remove seed ahead of time, while others just eat the grapes skin and seeds included. My aunt heard that this began when a grape company had excess grapes and crafted this ploy to rid them of their excess about 100 years ago. The grape eating continued the year after and the rest is history. I am not sure if this is the true origin, but the metafolklore is intriguing nonetheless.
I find this tradition interesting because their is folklore surrounding the origin of the folk tradition. I agree that the grapes represent good luck and prosperity in the new year, although it is a lot of grape eating in a short amount of time!