Why Spanish people eat grapes at New Year’s eve in Malaga?

You might spotted that before New Year’s eve a lot of grapes appear everywhere in the stores in Malaga, even if it’s not exactly grape season. The reason behind of the sudden appearance of the grapes, is that there is a Spanish custom which is about eating grapes at New Year’s eve. According to tradition, it is believed that whoever eats their 12 grapes as the bells chime (one for each of the twelve chimes) will have a lucky and prosperous year.

Spaniards are really good in believing every kind of bullshit. This “Las doce uvas de la suerte” aka, “The twelve grapes of luck” custom might think is some ancient mythological or biblical thing, right? Actually, it started in 1895, when some wine growers in Alicante had too much grapes and they had to find a way to get rid of it. They pulled this off so well, that from 1909 it become an official thing and whole Spain and Malaga is eating grapes now at New Year’s eve like nobody’s business, since the 12 grapes symbolize 12 lucky months ahead for the next year.

Spanish people love luck, because they want to win the lottery or a government job that is reliable, easy and calm, so they can just vegetate there until they retire. So eating the grapes and being lucky is crucial for their career.

If you spend the New Year’s eve in Spain you should try this tradition, because it’s fun. To do it, first of all, you will need 12 grapes that you can get literally from anywhere. Every shop in Malaga sells grapes around this time. You can even find easy to swallow seedless and canned grapes.


If you want to be a pro, you should line up the 12 grapes and as the clock chimes with each chime you eat a grape, which is the traditional method.

Of course, there are renegades who do it their own way, or they just want to have more fun. These are the most common strategies of eating the 12 grapes at midnight in Malaga:

  • Some people stuck all the grapes in their mouth at once as fast as possible and they try to swallow it before the time runs out. They usually fail, because they can’t swallow it.
  • Some others get the grapes in their mouths one by one, but for some reason they don’t swallow them, they just collect them like a hamster or other rodent. Obviously they fail too because when the chimes stop, their mouth should be empty already and not full.
  • There are people who are so wannabe cool, that they do tricks throw the grapes in the air and catch it with their mouth etc. Unless they were practicing this nonsense stunt for the whole year, they usually fail as well.

If you are superstitious and you believe all this nonsense, then I must warn you that you should never start eating the grapes earlier then the 12 chimes because that brings bad luck for the next year. As you can see, participating in this custom in Malaga can be very dangerous, you can mess up your whole year if you fail to eat the grapes in time or if you are so nervous that you start eating before the first chime. Therefore, participate at your own risk, your 365 days of luck depends on it!


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Written by Surviving Malaga

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