Sour grapes..but just a few
Two New's Year's Eves in Spain and I've yet to eat my grapes.
The Spanish eat grapes at midnight, 12 of them, in rapid succession. One for every toll of the bell. I've met all kinds of advice about the Nochevieja grapes - peeling them, buying them small and seedless, various chewing techniques - what I haven't met yet is the opportunity to down them, and reap the good luck I'll get for every grape-month I gobble in time.
Last year I'd expected to take on the grape challenge, but when my plans cancelled and I found myself alone on New Year's (a traditionally family event, and one that finds most of my neighbors back in their family's pueblos) I decided to remain a New Year's grape virgin. The Spanish still hold fast to a tradition that holidays are for family, so the holiday invitations don't exactly flow in - for any holidays, a strange experience for me, after moving around the States for so long, finding myself inevitably adopted for every conceivable holiday by some gregarious American family in search of holiday orphans to round out the party. I had a standing invitation to Passover which I never missed, for years. I'm not Jewish, but I smile alot and eat everything, even the gefilte fish half the family won't eat. Anyway, while I've which I've heard the "family is family" rule is a general Mediterranean thing, it is not a wandering ex-pat's best friend.
Nonetheless I had 3 fabulous invitations this holiday season! I was initially invited to a pueblo near Vallodolid to spend Christmas AND New Year's, but I wasn't able to take that much time from work. So I signed on to join my Spanish teacher's family in La Alberca, a little village in the sierra not far from Salamanca, but had to cancel at the last minute: dead laptop and far to much to get done before I head to the States for a few weeks. At the 11th hour on the 31st another friend checked in quickly just to be sure I was lined up for grape-eating....but the 21st century got in the way. Poorly timed SMS messages. I missed a ride to Ávila, where my grapes were chilling.
So my grape eating remains postponed for another year, although I am thinking of cheating. A friend reading a book about the Celts mentioned a Celtic New Year holiday on February 1st: IMBOLC. (Anybody know it?) Seems like time to torture the neighbors with another party, since I have all those lovely martini glasses sitting around bored...so if any of you find yourselves in Salamanca Feb 1, come on over for IMBOLC - drinks and menu to be named later, celtic music and a tune on my new irish tin whistle are good bets, and 12 grapes at midnight are guaranteed. I figure with a February grape downing ceremony, I should be covered, luck-speaking, through February 2007.
Labels: on living in Spain