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The 12 Grapes of New Year’s Eve: A Symbol of Luck

The approaching holiday season reminds me of a tradition that my family celebrates every New Year’s Eve: eating twelve grapes as the clock approaches midnight. While at social gatherings with close friends, my family always fills up champagne glasses with grapes and distributes them to people, inciting the excitement that underlies this custom. I once considered this family tradition odd, even a little superstitious, but now through reflection I view it in a new light.

My parents always told me that eating each of the twelve grapes symbolizes good luck for every month of the year, so it is imperative that you do so while people are counting down the seconds before the ball drops, the clock strikes twelve, and the metaphorical “fresh start” begins. Now that I am older, I understand that grapes symbolize good fortune in some ways. Both red and green grapes, in their crispest form, are one of the most pleasantly sweet types of fruit. Upon biting into them, their juices burst in your mouth, quenching hunger and thirst simultaneously. All of these wonderful qualities make grapes improve my mood. It really is the small things that can significantly shift your appreciation for life. Beginning the new year with a positive state of mind is probably the biggest guarantee that you will accomplish your goals, or at least put forth your best effort to do so. What can possibly produce better luck than eating grapes on New Year’s Eve?

Apart from its tasty benefits, eating twelve  grapes before midnight every 31st of December builds togetherness among friends and family, fostering happy beginnings as we enter the new year. Bags of produce are opened, stems are emptied, and grapes are counted in a rushed but exhilarated manner. Passing along the fruit-filled champagne glasses is also a collaborative effort, as it is very important that every partygoer partakes in this tradition. Amidst this chaos, my family usually takes a moment to reflect on our blessings, which prepares us to receive the new year with gratitude. Furthermore, with glasses in our hands, we FaceTime family members that are not able to celebrate the holiday with us. This usually involves calling relatives in Ecuador, whom we miss dearly and want to wish a Happy New Year.

11:59 p.m. approaches and everyone starts popping grapes into their mouths. As I look around at this time, I see people pause briefly for each grape that they ingest, wishing for something. Some may think that grapes are just grapes, and they do not promote good luck at all. However, witnessing earnest hope on family and friends’ faces while they’re eating grapes at a New Year’s Eve party really broadens my perspective about the power of collective belief and the wonder associated with hoping for good fortune upon entering the new year. Putting power into the grapes is an act of faith itself, as all of our hopes for the future reside in these small and crisp pockets of sweetness.

Once the clock strikes midnight at the gatherings I attend, everyone starts hugging each other and wishing their family members and friends a Happy New Year. With their palettes permeated by the sweetness of grapes, people bask in the joy of celebration with those they love and cherish. This spectacle is beautiful to watch, but even more enjoyable to partake in. Every New Year, I make a mental note to not only be grateful for the people in my life, but also for the drive within myself to pursue my goals. In some strange and yet beautiful way, frantically eating grapes before midnight approaches on New Year’s Eve orients my thoughts toward this thankful outlook. Perhaps this culinary tradition is considered lucky because it yields a force that motivates individuals to channel their inner determination. People might subconsciously honor this tradition because it sparks improvement and growth within them at the beginning of every year, which is a gift never wasted when entering new chapters in their lives.

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