Someone out of my distant past left this status update on Facebook yesterday:

For years I’ve been eating 12 green grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve to ensure good luck. Last night, AFTER going through the ritual for yet another time, I discovered WHY the results haven’t been outstanding. Ignacio directed me to an online article that explained that it is necessary to wear RED UNDERWEAR while eating the grapes.

Which is basically true, at least in Spain:

As midnight nears on Nochevieja, or “old night,” the last day of the year, the entire country gathers in front of television screens or in town squares, clutching a small bowl of green grapes and wearing red underwear.

But wait! There’s more:

If scoffing grapes at midnight isn’t strange enough, convention says you must do so while wearing red ropa interior, or underwear — a bra, a sock, a garter, whatever. And — stranger yet — the undergarment should be given to you by someone else.

Maria, the stall owner, reminded me not to forget a third traditional lucky charm to accompany red underwear and grapes: drop a gold ring into my celebratory glass of cava (local champagne-style bubbly from Catalunya). “Just don’t swallow it!” That would, no doubt, be a harbinger of bad luck.

Mulligans, alas, are not available. From that Facebook status:

Since it was too late for a redo, I doubled up on collard greens, hoppin’ john and pork roast today.

Which Southerners will recognize as a different approach to achieving the same goal.


  1. McGehee »

    2 January 2013 · 10:43 pm

    What I do for good luck at midnight on New Year’s Eve is arrange in advance not to be at Times Square with Kathy Griffin.

  2. CGHill »

    2 January 2013 · 10:44 pm

    Yeah, I heard her last appearance pretty much sucked.

  3. Francis W. Porretto »

    3 January 2013 · 3:50 am

    But wait! There’s more:

    You owe Ron Popeil a nickel.

  4. Tatyana »

    3 January 2013 · 10:57 am

    Aha. Now we know why I have had the classic jewish luck all my life. No grapes at midnight (it’s the most elaborate feast of the year, grapes – what measly grapes? I’m not a miser)
    no red underwear (how tacky, first of all, secondly – I don’t accept gifts of underwear. not later than my 13th birthday and if the gifter is not my mother)

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