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Wednesday, October 14, 2009 (read 810 times)
New Year's Eve in Spain!by Lauren Somers
The first party kicks off in early December in Salamanca, with the "Nochevieja Universitaria" (University New Year's Eve). This is a huge celebration for the thousands of students who are in Salamanca during term time, but who have family or other commitments on the 31st. This notorious night of drinking and partying attracts students from all nearby towns, and even Madrid. In total around 30,000 students will be ready to hit the bars and clubs! First though of course, is the countdown to midnight in the famed Plaza Mayor, where volunteers hand out packets of 12 gummy bears, rather than the traditional grapes that are eaten at midnight. Get a glimpse of last years celebrations by clicking here.
The second opportunity is the "Ensayo de las campanadas" (Bell ringing rehearsal) in the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, at midday on 30th December. This is a chance for organizers to make sure that everything is working, so that on the night everything runs smoothly. It is popular with those who either can't make the actual celebrations, or who don't want to face the crowds on the 31st itself, as the square gets as busy as Times Square or Leicester Square.
If you fancy something a bit different, why not head to the "Campanadas Alternativas para Frikis" (Alternative New Year's Eve for geeks"). This new phenomenon takes place in the Plaza de Castilla (Madrid) infront of the specially designed Pacman Christmas tree!
Then of course comes the real New Year's Eve, along with its grape-eating traditions. Around 100 years ago, Spanish farmers were left with too many grapes after the harvest, and so ate them with each chime of the bells at midnight on New Year's Eve... or so the story goes! Nowadays people all over Spain continue the tradition, hence the gummy bear replacement for the students in Salamanca. However, remember that there are four high pitched chimes "los cuatros" that announce the start of the real ones, so don't start too early! Every grape that is eaten correctly is said to bring one month's good luck for the following year.
Lastly, and perhaps the most strange, are the celebrations that take place in the tiny village of Berchules, near Granada, on the first Saturday of the month of August. A power cut in the 90's meant that New Year's Eve was cancelled for the people in the village, who decided to reschedule it for later in the year, a tradition that has continued ever since!
Want to experience the Spanish celebrations for yourself? Why not combine your stay with a Spanish course and learn the lingo at the same time!