When the clock strikes midnight for January 1 in Spain, people waiting in earnest hold twelve grapes in their hand. At each tolling of the hour, they pop a grape into their mouth and if they successfully eat all twelve grapes by the twelfth toll, they are promised twelve months of good luck.
Nochevieja, literally “Old Night”, has held this tradition for at least a hundred years in Spain. The origins aren’t easy to pinpoint, but in 2012 an NPR journalist named Jeff Koehler was living in Spain and found newspaper articles from the 1880’s. The article described grape sales around New Year's increasing as middle-lower class Spaniards found their own way to join the French champagne toast. Whenever it started, it caught on. Grapes are now a national tradition, a clinging to fortune and luck for at least a year’s time.
I often find myself, too, seeking ways at New Year’s to claim good luck. There’s something beautiful about traditions that hold meaning, and there’s something even more special about that meaning itself. What is it about good luck?
Whenever we or someone we know embarks on a new journey, the wish is for good luck. In its simplicity, that wish holds us in our embarkation. It’s a wish of encouragement that leads us to feeling more empowered and braver to take on whatever journey is ahead of us. It sets our mind to be more positive and open to whatever will be in our favor. Whether or not luck has anything to do with it, for these reasons it is good.
As we journey into a moment of new, new year, new time, new season, new life, may we hold each other in this wish. Let it be our prayer. Good luck. Good luck to you as you embark. Good luck to you as you brave what is before you. Good luck to you as you open yourself to what is in your favor. May the journey be blessed and may you feel empowered by our wish for you.
Grab twelve grapes for strength along the way.