Background: The informant is a 19 year old girl who is currently a college student in Chicago, Illinois. She was also born and raised in the city. One winter break in high school, the informant did a study abroad program in Spain, where she was able to stay for 4 weeks and immerse herself in the culture
Context: The context was over a phone call, the informant was asked if had any New Year’s traditions, and she shared one she saw while overseas.
IT: In Spain, when New Years comes around, when the clock is clicking at the last 12 seconds, people will eat 12 grapes to represent the last year. If they eat all the grapes – which is a bit of a choking hazard – it’s considered good luck.
Me: Is it considered bad luck if you don’t finish?
IT: Hm, I don’t think it’s considered bad luck. I believe it’s like, you won’t have as much good luck as someone who did finish all the grapes. I was surprised when I saw them doing it because I’ve never seen it before. It was really interesting. Eating a certain amount of fruit is popular in a lot of places. It reminds me of Persephone eating 7 pomegranate seeds, symbolizing seven months of time.
Informant: She was very excited to learn about a new culture, and it was interesting and impactful enough to her that she wished to share it. It seemingly stuck out more in her head than her own traditions.
Mine: Grapes are a unique fruit to choose and why they could be considered lucky is interesting. It could be because grapes bring in a large amount of money from the wine industry, hence, they become associated with wealth and good luck. It could be that given their shape, they somewhat represent a circle which could be time and the continuity of the year restarting. The comparison to Greek mythology is a great parallel, understanding that basic ideas and symbols can transcend the bounds of one society and into another. It doesn’t matter truly what the fruit is but eating the fruit symbolizes the same thing, it’s the concept that is the same.