December 31st, 2007

Let me see..

For a lucky 2008

Here in Spain, New Year's Eve is called Nochevieja (Old Night), and its celebrations focus on obtaining luck. This is important in a country were, historically, initiative and merit were not always rewarded.

The evening is a family affair. You'll have a big dinner with your parents, children, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, and then you'll turn on the television to watch the official clock in downtown Madrid. If you're among the thousands who go downtown to watch the clock in person, fright wigs are the height of fashion.

For good luck, you should wear red underwear, and most of all, you should eat twelve grapes when the clock strikes midnight, one at each peal of the bell. It helps if you peel and seed the grapes first. You get one second per grape. Chewing is optional.

Then you should blow off firecrackers and fireworks in the street. Actually, this isn't quite legal, but as long as you don't blow up your neighbor's car, the police won't care; laws in Spain are always flexibly enforced. In previous years, our neighborhood has become hazy with gunpowder smoke. We'll be standing at the window tonight sipping bubbly and admiring the barrage.

¡Feliz año nuevo!