Eating 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve is both a tradition and a superstition in Spain. Rare is the Spaniard who will risk poisoning their fate for the coming year by skipping the grapes, one for each stroke of midnight.
Americans may giddily greet the New Year downing a glass of champagne and grabbing a kiss at the drop of the ball. But the first 12 seconds of the Spaniards’ New Year are somewhat quieter and more intense, as everyone focuses on eating all 12 of the “miraculous grapes” that symbolize 12 lucky months ahead.
Eating the grapes pretty much guarantees starting off the year with a little adrenaline rush, and most likely some laughs. While the goal of getting the 12 grapes down in time can spark a contest of who is más macho around the table, the biggest challenge is more likely to be not gagging as you cram them in your mouth and try to swallow while laughing hysterically.
As Spanish cuisine has achieved a higher international profile  in recent years, and tapas bars and Spanish restaurants have flourished, it’s probable that more non-Hispanics will be eating 12 grapes this New Year’s.
To add a continental flair to your New Year’s celebration, buy seedless green grapes (look for smaller ones) and separate them into portions of 12, one set for each guest. In Spain, the chimes are broadcast on TV. Otherwise, if you don’t happen to live near a church tower, or have a clock with chimes, you can download an iPhone app called G-Clock that chimes on the hour with a classic “bong.” (Chime apps for other mobile devices are also available.) Or just call out the 12 seconds starting with midnight.
Over years of observation, we have noted these six common profiles of those who've been (mostly) successful achieving this feat, which we offer as a guide for your New Year’s grape eating: