Experiencing the holidays in Sevilla has been a blessing. I feel like I have had such an authentic Spanish celebration and my love for the culture, the people, and the way of life here has grown exponentially. I was obsessed with the Christmas spirit in Sevilla. From the smell of roasting chestnuts in the air on my way to work, to the floor-length fur coats that the elderly ladies donned while shopping in the center, to the lights that illuminated the city... I loved it all.
I was lucky enough to spend Christmas morning with my family in Paris (which was also sparkling, as to be expected), so my holiday celebrations in Sevilla were put on hold until New Years Eve or Noche Vieja. This was my favorite night in Spain. Ever.
My friend Laura and her family have been so gracious to me throughout my time here. Whether it's meeting for a quick merienda (snack) in the evening or going to a traditional theater performance across town, they always extend an invitation. NYE was no exception! I joined her whole family (cousins, aunts, uncles, grandma) for their festivities in a town outside Sevilla called Montequinto.
We all sat around the table and ate traditional Spanish cuisine. Plates of cured meats and cheeses, little tapas of ensaladilla rusa with olives, picos which are crackers that are served with every meal, and shrimp. The Spaniards love shrimp, but not quite the way we love do. I'm hoping you can tell from my photo how different these shrimp are. I've tried them before and one after one little bite I realized they were not my cup of tea. Anyways, since I was not eating the shrimp and was also sitting across from Laura's grandmother... I guilt-ate about a half a plate of jamón. She kept insisting I was not full by putting more on my plate and honestly who denies a Spanish grandma??
The Spanish equivalent to "Dick Clark's Rockin' NYE" was playing on the TV in the background during dinner. If a great song came on the program, the family would sing along and watch the clip, otherwise it was just used as a time-checker. The main event of NYE in Spain is eating the uvas (grapes). The last twelve seconds of the year are counted down and with each "donggg!" of the bell tower, a grape is eaten. It started awhile back when grape growers experienced a surplus of product and now it is meant to bring luck and prosperity throughout the year!
So the grapes were the talk of the night and everyone was preparing and exciting me about this authentic Spanish tradition. But things went awry...
We were all prepared with our grape filled champagne glasses with about a minute left of 2014. We were watching the TV program when BOOM- It glitched and cut to commercial! Everyone was like... WTF?! Puzzled and anxious faces filled the room. Then it glitched back for a second and we heard/saw that the countdown had begun! We were all confused... Should we start eat them? Is it really counting down? WHAT TIME IS IT?! Laura's mom was not going to risk it. From across the room she shouted "Corre, corre!!!" (Run, run, hurry!) and began popping the grapes into her mouth like her life depended on it. When we finally we found another TV program there was only one second left on the countdown. I started shoveling the grapes into my mouth but at this point Laura and I are laughing so hard because of what a #fail this was that I could barely keep them down. I was choking to death on my grapes. So was she. Laughing and choking and eventually crying. Crying out of laughter and because I literally could not breathe. You could not have scripted something more entertaining-- I am so glad we missed it.
After dinner Lau and I went out to a disco and danced until the wee hours. Everyone was dressed to the nines; most of the boys were in suits and ties and the girls were just glammed up like always. I couldn't get over how different NYE was here as compared to the States. Normally midnight is the peak of the celebration, drinks have been flowing for hours, and the night is on it's way to a close. Not here. I was getting home around the same time you were saying hello to 2015.
Un besito X