New Year's Eve In Spain Is All About The Grapes — Save The Cava For Later : The Salt As the clock strikes midnight, people in Spain gobble 12 grapes in quick succession, with wishes for the new year. Then, they go out to party all night long with cava, a Spanish sparkling white wine.

In Spain, New Year's Eve Is All About The Grapes — Save The Bubbly For Later

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OK, our international correspondents this week are sending toasts from cities where they live and cover the news. In Spain, the New Year's toast is feliz ano nuevo. It's a kind of a cool tradition. You're supposed to eat a dozen green grapes for good luck in each month of the coming year. From Madrid, Lauren Frayer explains.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: A few years ago on my first New Year's Eve in Madrid, we went out at 10 p.m. and found deserted streets. The bars were closed. Turns out it was too early. Spaniards often watch the New Year countdown on TV at home with family and then go out partying after midnight.

CANDELAS ORTIZ: Oh, until 5 in the morning, more or less. Normally it's until the sun rises exactly. And they do the chocolate - the hot chocolate with churros.

FRAYER: Bartender Candelas Ortiz fills me in on the routine - an all-night party with chocolate and churros - fried dough - at sunrise. For the past 17 years, Ortiz has tended bar at Madrid's swanky Palace Hotel. I sidle up and ask for a typical New Year's drink - cava, or Spanish sparkling white wine.

PALOMA GARCIA: We drink cava only at the end. You don't have enough time to drink.

FRAYER: Hotel spokeswoman Paloma Garcia explains that, in Spain, it's not what you drink at midnight but what you're able to wolf down - a dozen grapes, hopefully without seeds. That makes them easier to gobble with each strike of a clock tower in Madrid's Puerta del Sol, the Spanish equivalent of Times Square.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Speaking Spanish).


FRAYER: At the moment when others around the world cheer and count down, Spaniards are silently swallowing grapes. It's bad luck if you can't down them all, Garcia says.

GARCIA: Yeah, it's quite difficult. You have to select small grapes because, like, it's very quickly. I remember my kid - he's very young - and he was - at the end, he has a mouth full of grapes - impossible.

FRAYER: Legend has it Spanish wine makers are behind this tradition to boost demand for grapes in winter. In the last week of December, Spanish supermarkets stock huge bins of green grapes. There is one more Spanish New Year's tradition - wearing red underwear, another good luck charm for the coming year. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Madrid.

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