New Year’s Eve, or Nochevieja as it is called in Spanish, differs somewhat from the British, but very much is also alike.
It is not a family day, but one spends time with family and friends out on the streets, squares, beaches etc. Many restaurants and discos are organizing a New Year’s ball, a so called “Cotillon”. Usually you eat a delicious dinner late at night and it is not unusual that it starts at 10 pm.
The twelve strokes of the clock is being happily celebrated in the city’s central square, where there often is a municipal event with artist performances. At midnight, one should eat one grape for each bell stroke, a total of twelve grapes, which sounds easier than it is. Those who have not managed to eat all the grapes when the bells are finished ringing is said to get bad luck the following year. A tip is to use small, seedless, peeled grapes. There are special cans with those which can be purchased in most grocery stores before the New Year. Then one cheers the New Year with Cava, which is the Spanish version of Champagne.
The most popular place in Spain to celebrate the New Years eve is in the Puerta del Sol in Madrid. From there it is always a live broadcast of the countdown on Spanish TV. It is the clock of the town hall that is being shown and watchmakers are adjusting the clock the day before, so it showing the exact time. Most Spaniards are watching the broadcast, whether at home, at a bar, or via the big screen at their local square.
After midnight and the cheering, there are usually private parties and the partying usually continues until the next morning. Spaniards are dressed up in party clothes and in addition, one should also have red underwear, which also must be brand new.
Back home we are accustomed with huge fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve. Along the coast of Spain, it is not so common with fireworks on New Year’s Eve. In Andalusia, there is no tradition of New Year’s fireworks, however it is common in some other areas such as in Valencia. To be allowed to shoot private fireworks, most municipalities demand for licensing, while other municipalities have completely banned the practice. So those who want to shoot fireworks should first check with the municipality (local police or city hall) what is allowed.
¡Feliz Año Nuevo! – Happy New Year!