It's almost time for 2009 to come to a close. I personally can't believe we're almost in 2010 - although it's been a tough year for everyone in Spain (and probably the world over), it still seems to have gone quickly, I don't know about you? And one thing that has had me wondering (very silly) stems from when I used to be a teacher. My students always used to be perplexed with how we English say the date - especially in years. For example, 1982 is read "nineteen eighty-two" and not "one thousand nine hundered and eighty two" which is how the Spanish/Catalan say it. I remember many students couldn't get their head around this and asked me what would you say in the year 2010; "two thousand and ten" or "twenty ten". I've heard both on news reports on the TV, for example, and personally I think I'm leaning towards "two thousand and ten" probably because I've been saying it that way for the last 9 years, and "twenty ten" sounds a bit funny. Anyway, silly aside there. Apologies.
So, one of the great things about the welcoming of the new year are the funny traditions. The Catalans have some great traditions regarding the replenishing of the earth after a year of farming, for example, and although the poo theme for me can go a bit too far, it's all good fun. So, being a sucker for everything festive, I'm always keen to hear about different traditions when it comes to Christmas and New Year.
Here in Spain, there's a tradition that many people know about which is to eat twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve - precisely in time with the twelve gongs of midnight. Grapes are festive fruits, and used in wine making and champagne, cava, etc. so it's an understandable fruit to use. It's supposed to signify that you will have a prosperous year to come, and is a tradition going as far back as 1895, although there is some confusion as to where the tradition was started, according to the wikipedia article - Alicante, Catalonia or Madrid.
However, it's interesting to read that the whole idea came about as a bit of a jokey protest. Apparently in 1882 the mayor of Madrid, Jose Abascal y Carredano, decided to charge 5 pesetas (known as "un duro" - never knew why, I was here when the peseta was still the currency) to those people who wanted to go out and meet the 3 Kings on the eve of the Epiphany. This led to a group of locals to then make theor way on New Year's eve to the Puerta del Sol, and mock the bourgoise custom of celebrating with champagne and wine, by eating the grapes with each peal of the bell. Nowadays, this is the location for the televised coverage of new year.
If you've never tried it before, it's actually pretty damn tough to do - a lot harder than it sounds, especially if you start being picky and taking pips out of your mouth. Fortuntaely, there are many ready-made solutions in many supermarkets in the form of little tins of peeled, seedless/seeded grapes - just don't cut yourself on the can as you open it! I'd love to hear some of your own traditions of New Year in the comments, guys. I know that in Argentina for example, they do a similar thing but with raisins, not grapes, and in Peru there's a tradition of running around your block with an empty suitcase so that you'll travel in the coming year. My wife and I exchange wedding rings and drop that into the first glass of cava to toast in the new year. Not sure where that one came from, but we always do it. Any others to add? Let me know! I love this kind of thing!! I'd also like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Very Happy New Year - thanks for reading, and for voting me the bestblogger in Europe for 2009 through the bloggersguide. I hope you all have a happy and successful TWENTY TEN....sorry TWO THOUSAND AND TEN.
If you're coming to Barcelona in the new year, then don't go for a hotel - try apartments for rent in Barcelona instead. And for a quick look at the un-missable attractions, then see this great Barcelona Guide.
2010 image by freeimageslive.co.uk - christmashat