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New Year’s Eve or Nochevieja (old night), as it’s known in Spanish, is a great time to visit Spain, as it is full of celebrations, fiestas, traditions, and superstitions. Here’s a guide on how to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the country, from where to go and what to wear to what to drink and what to eat.
Choosing a location to celebrate New Year’s Eve is important throughout the world, and equally so in Spain. Some of the most popular places for New Year’s Eve celebrations include Madrid’s Puerto del Sol, Barcelona’s Plaza España, Plaza de Ayuntamiento in Valencia, and Plaza del Carmen in Granada. Wherever you choose, be sure to arrive early to pick a good spot from where to watch the fireworks. In Barcelona, try to get as close to the Magic Fountain as possible as there are also water and music displays and spectacular performances on a large stage.
As well as partying and fireworks, Nochevieja is also a holiday for spending time with family. If you have any Spanish friends, why not ask if you can join them in their family celebrations to experience it in the most traditional way possible? Families usually celebrate by sharing a meal together and watching the countdown and fireworks on TV.
Now that you have your party venue sorted, it’s time to organize your outfit. Many shops around the holidays sell a lot more red lingerie, which is thought to bring luck to those looking for love in the year to come.
One of the biggest Spanish New Year’s traditions is to eat one grape on every chime of the last 12 seconds of the year so that by the time it strikes midnight, you will have stuffed a total of 12 grapes into your mouth. If you manage to chew and swallow them in time, it is said to bring you good luck for the entire year. To make things easier, many Spanish supermarkets sell smaller, seedless grapes in cans so that you can take them with you wherever you decide to celebrate.
Cava, the Spanish version of champagne, is, of course, the most popular beverage to celebrate with on New Year’s Eve and is usually consumed as a toast after the clock strikes midnight. Some Spaniards put a gold object at the bottom of their glass, such as a piece of jewelry or a coin, to bring them good luck and wealth for the year ahead. The idea is to drink the whole glass of Cava in one go and collect your golden object at the end.
After the fireworks, celebrations, and dinners, many people in Spain believe that the correct way to begin the New Year is with your right foot – as the saying in English goes, ‘start on the right foot,’ or the Spanish-translated-into-English version, ‘enter with the right foot.’ So when you walk away from the fireworks or step down from the dinner table, make sure it’s with your right foot; that way you can start the year in the best way possible – with luck for the future.
When the festivities and partying are over, many Spanish families like to gather on New Year’s Day for a lunch of lentil and chorizo (a kind of spicy sausage) soup or stew. There are a few theories as to why they do this: one is that the tradition comes from Italy, where lentils are said to bring prosperity, and the other is that the lentils represent small coins, again, bringing wealth.