The tradition of eating twelve grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve, known as ‘The Twelve Grapes,’ is a practice that transcends national boundaries, including Colombia. Originally a Spanish custom, this ritual involves consuming a grape with each of the twelve clock bell strikes at midnight on December 31st, symbolizing wishes for each month of the coming year.
Origins and Spread of the Tradition
Tracing its roots back to at least 1895, the tradition was popularized in 1909 by Alicantese vine growers in Spain as a means to sell excess grapes from an abundant harvest. Over time, this custom evolved beyond its commercial origins to become a symbol of good luck and prosperity for the New Year. In some regions, it was also believed to ward off evil.
The Twelve Grapes tradition is closely associated with the time ball and clock of the Royal House of the Post Office in Puerta del Sol, Madrid, where the change of the year is broadcast nationally. Since 1962, this event has been a focal point for the tradition, drawing large crowds and viewers.
Adoption in Colombia and Beyond
While originating in Spain, the tradition has been embraced in various Latin American countries, including Colombia, as well as by Hispanic communities in the United States and other regions. In Colombia, as in other countries, the ritual involves selecting twelve grapes, each representing a wish for the corresponding month of the upcoming year.
In Colombia, as in Spain and other countries where this tradition is observed, the Twelve Grapes are more than a ritual; they are a moment of unity and reflection for families and communities. As Colombians participate in this shared tradition, they join millions around the world in welcoming the New Year with hope and anticipation.
A symbolic feast
Each grape represents a month of the upcoming year, and by eating them, the aim is to attract good fortune for each forthcoming month. Choosing the grapes is not just a culinary gesture but an act filled with optimism and hope.
As the clocks count down the last seconds of the outgoing year, every Colombian takes a grape for each stroke of the clock. With each grape, a specific wish is made for the corresponding month.
These wishes can vary, from personal goals to collective aspirations for a prosperous and happy year. Hope becomes a sweet and symbolic bite.
The meaning behind each grape and wish
January: Start the year with health and vitality.
February: Love and harmony in personal relationships.
March: Success and prosperity in projects.
April: Moments of joy and fun.
May: Peace and tranquility in daily life.
June: Achievement of personal goals.
July: Strength and resilience in facing challenges.
August: Abundance in material life.
September: Strong family connections.
October: New opportunities and horizons.
November: Gratitude and appreciation for achievements.
December: Celebration and special moments.
A moment of unity and reflection
Beyond superstition, the practice of the twelve grapes and twelve wishes has become a moment of unity and reflection for Colombian families. Gathered around the table, sharing laughter and hopes, this ritual symbolizes the importance of starting the new year with a positive outlook and the belief that each month can bring something special.