Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Stamps from Spain
Spanish Correos issued a set of two stamp celebrating Christmas and New Year. The first stamp depicts a traditional nativity scene. Happy New Year! is the message featuring in the second Christmas stamp which is illustrated with the clock from the Puerta del Sol in Madrid and the traditional twelve grapes.
A custom in Madrid in the late 19th century imposed the intake of twelve grapes at the chimes of the clock in the Puertadel Sol. The practice soon spread throughout Spain and seems to have its origins in a surplus of grapes in the area of Alicante and Murcia.
A grape is eaten at each chime with the wish for a prosperous and happy new year.
This Spanish tradition became popular in Latin American countries where in some places fresh grapes are replaced by raisins like in Argentina. The arrival of the New Year is celebrated differently in each country. In Italy for example, it is customary to make a lentil soup and in Greece a cake is baked with a coin inside which promises a year of happiness for the person who finds it.