The twelve grapes are a tradition of Spanish origin and has been extended to other Latin American countries such as Mexico and Venezuela. The tradition consists in eating 12 grapes, one for each time the bell rings, at midnight on the 31st of December (New Years Eve). The traditional place for the 12 bells in Spain is the Puerta del Sol (Madrid), where the famous clock of the Casa de Correo is located.
There are many different explanations as to why a dozen of grapes are eaten and not more or less. Some say that it symbolizes the months of the year, and others say that one is eaten for each ring of the bell. Why are grapes used? Because in 1895, the president of the chamber of ministry started to eat grapes with champagne. In 1909, the farmers of Alicante and Murcia found themselves with an excellent harvest, which pushed them to establish this tradition and make it more popular.
The first written reference about the twelve grapes appeared on New Years Eve in 1895- This was the first year that was ended with grapes and champagne.
This Spanish tradition did not begin
in 1909, like is believed, but in December of 1895 in the Puerta del Sol in Madrid.
The press in Madrid said in January of 1897:
“ It is a custom in Madrid to eat twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight on the clock, which separates the old year from the new year.¨ The following year, the newspaper spoke about this tradition with an article titled ¨The Miraculous Grapes.¨