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Spanish Wednesday: 29th December 2010 - A festive guide to how the New Year is celebrated in Spain

Published by Amandoloss

Hola y welcome to my Spanish Wednesday New Year's Edition which also happens to be the last Spanish update for 2010. Since the new year is approaching it's all about reviews, predictions and New Year's resolutions. I will not bore you with my own personal review of 2010, but I will tell you all I know about how the people in Spain celebrate the New Year. Pues, vamos! (Let's go then!)

News from Spain and Spanish-speaking countries

First and foremost, the Spanish language conquers Formula 1. I think the timing of this humble column couldn't have been better.

Ducati is going to organize a duel between Valentino Rossi and Fernando Alonso on a frozen lake. Love the idea althought I think they should invite Kimi and Heikki. Fernando Alonso is not being lazy at all as he participated in a marathon for UNICEF in his hometown Oviedo and played some football with other Asturian sportsmen as a part of a sports gala.

Rafa Nadal has been chosen as the Spanish Athlete of The Year 2010. I'm very glad for him! Here you can also see his best photos of the year.

A while ago I posted about the Calendario Celeste (Uruguayan national football team's calendar) and here you can watch a short making off. Since we are in Uruguay there must be a word or two about our sidepodmascot Diego Forlan. He played some golf, was chosen as the Personality of The Year in Uruguay and now he's back in training. Diego is confident about his fitness and I hope the second part of the season will be better for him and for Athletico.

As for Jaime, he's chilling.

Some of you have been waiting for it so here's the second part of my festive guide to Spain.

New Year's Eve (Noche Vieja)

It's a party night like everywhere else in the world, though the structure is a little different to in other countries - remember you have to think in Spanish time! Rather than starting early and building to a crescendo at midnight, the Spanish see in the new year sober (well, nearly sober), either with friends or with family, and then go out to the bars at about 12.30. The partying then continues until about 6am if you fancy an early night or much, much later, if you don't!

There is an 'ancient' tradition, started by some shrewd farmers about 100 years ago when they were left with too many grapes, of eating twelve grapes at the twelve bongs of midnight. This is a fun ritual, only spoiled by the fact that it is almost impossible to buy seedless grapes in Spain - in the rush to chomp down the dozen grapes, everyone ends up biting into a seed and pulling a silly face. A word of advice - there are four higher-pitched chimes just before the main ones at midnight (known as 'los cuatros') that announce the start of the real ones. Make sure you don't start eating your grapes too soon. It catches people out each year - one year a television presenter made fatal error! For every grape you get right, you will get a month's good luck.

It is tradition to listen to the clock from Puerta del Sol in Madrid, usually via the television. Even young people won’t go out with their friends until they have seen the New Year in with their families. Throughout the country there are street parties and special nights in hotels and clubs everywhere. Those who live in Madrid congregate in the main square (Puerta del Sol) and eat the grapes along with a celebratory bottle of cava (champagne) then head out into the night until after sunrise.There's a growing trend towards celebrating the New Year in restaurants or clubs where the meal and all-night entertainment are provided. Having said that, according to a Spanish friend in Madrid, this tends to be more popular with the tourists than the actual Madrilenos!

For people visiting Spain with the intention of celebrating New Year, make sure that you either bring a crowd of friends and family with you or have some waiting there for you or it could feel quite uneventful. Don’t be surprised to walk through some towns on New Year’s Eve and discover that all the bars are closed as the staff are at home celebrating with their families.

Three Kings Day (El Dia de los Reyes)

January 6 is virtually as important as Christmas itself, especially for kids, as this is the day when they get their presents. The fun starts the evening before, when the three kings lead their procession through the streets, throwing sweets to the children. The next morning, the children wake up to find their presents have been left overnight (rumors that Santa moonlights as the Three Kings when times are hard are unfounded).

Everyone also eats roscóns, a sweet, donut-shaped bread (though much bigger than a donut) covered in glacier cherries and sugar. A plastic toy is buried inside the mixture, so don't dive in too quickly. He or she who finds the toy gets good luck for the next year (double the luck if they also ate the grapes on New Year's Eve!)

And now the second short Spanish Lesson festive edition.

New Year's Evela Noche Vieja
nightla noche
resolutionel dolo / la intención / le premeditación / el propósito
celebrationsla celebración / la fiesta
fireworkslos fuegos artificiales
champagneel champán / el champaña
grapeslas uvas
donutla rosquilla (en Madrid) / dona (en Mexico) / o bola de fraile (en Argentina)
midnightla media noche
hangoverla resaca
headacheel dolor de cabeza
cuddleun abrazo
Happy New Year¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

That's all from me for today and for this year 2010. I hope you have enjoyed my posts as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I wish you all ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! and see you in next year!

All content in the series Spanish Wednesday