New Year’s Eve traditions in Spain

Shortly before the end of the year, we wanted to know how New Year’s Eve is celebrated in other countries. Noelia introduces us to the New Year traditions of her home country.


New Year’s Eve is one of the most important festivals in Spain. It is like a fresh start: you say goodbye to the old year and greet the new one. Since Spain has many traditions, it is no surprise that there are also traditions for New Year’s Eve:

  • Wear your best clothes. We Spaniards dress up very smartly to welcome the New Year – with beautiful clothes, make-up, styled hair and so on. In my home, all family members take a few hours to get ready.
  • Wear red underwear. It is supposed to bring you good luck in the next year.
  • Only serve the best food: We always cook something special for this day. The table is full of good Jamón Serrano, seafood, various soups, meat dishes and desserts. Wine and champagne are also important for the toast directly after midnight.
  • Eat twelve grapes. At midnight, you have to pay attention to the Puerta del Sol clock on Madrid’s most famous square and have twelve grapes ready at hand, one of which is eaten with every chime of the bell. This is said to bring you prosperity and happiness.
New Year's Eve

closeup of a bunch of grapes and glasses with champagne in the background for the traditional celebration of the New Year in Spain

The countdown to the New Year is broadcast live on Spanish television. Even before dinner, we have discussions about which channel we want to watch it on. 15 minutes before midnight we sit in front of the TV and make sure everyone has his or her twelve grapes. I am always very nervous at this moment and try not to choke on a grape. Immediately after the very first second of the New Year, we all hug each other and wish each other a Happy New Year – sometimes this gets very emotional!

  • Go out and celebrate afterwards! There are loads of big parties in the city. Young Spaniards know long before New Year’s Eve where they will celebrate, because you have to buy the tickets in advance. The parties start around 1 o’clock in the morning and last until breakfast. Treat yourself to Chocolate con Churros before you go home. If parties are not your thing, you can of course, like many Spanish families, celebrate at home, listen to music and have drinks.

Here, too, our traditions are changing. For example, many Spaniards rent a house for several days and celebrate New Year’s Eve there with their friends. However, for me, New Year’s Eve means first and foremost time with my family: a day in the year when we are all together. I have been doing this all my life and cannot imagine a better way to start the New Year.


Noelia is 27 years old and was born in Spain. Since September 2018 she has been studying for a Master's in International Human Resource Management at IUBH Campus Studies in Berlin. In her spare time she likes to travel to explore new places and go hiking. She also loves cooking, baking and culinary delights.

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