Student’s New Year’s Eve in Salamanca, where I studied abroad in 2007-08
What to do on New Year’s Eve? Always a big question this time of year. Last year I rang in the New Year in NYC, freezing my butt off and slipping around on the ice in beautiful, but impractical high heels. 2 years before that I was jam-packed in Puerta del Sol, the main square in Madrid, stuffing grapes in my mouth at midnight and attempting to avoid the firecrackers people were throwing around in the massive crowd. This year, I decided I didn’t want anything crazy and just see what happens in Logroño. Luckily one of my students, M, who is my age invited me to Zaragoza to celebrate New Year’s with her family. It was going to be a noche tranquila (calm night). Haha. Is there such thing as a noche tranquila in Spain on New Year’s? No, I don’t think so.
We drove out to Zaragoza that morning and arrived just in time to have a massive lunch at an Italian restaurant. Side not, I love love LOVE Spanish families! They seriously have to be the sweetest, most generous families out there. They see a little blond guiri (foreigner) like me, and they immediately take me under their wing-whether I like it or not-and make me one of their own, doing everything to make sure I have a fun and feel comfortable. I love them-end of side note.
We spent the afternoon walking around the old town, seeing the life-size nativity scene, donkey rides included in front of the giant cathedral, and eating ice-cream. That night we headed out to the country house outside the city for a long dinner. I mean long. Family get-togethers in Spain can last for hours. Course after course after course came out, and the specialty was gambas (prawns), heads still attached. Now if you know me, you know that I have a mild obsession with seafood, but plucking the heads of shrimp was something I had not come to terms with, but don’t worry, after a lot of help from the cousins, I can now do it like a champ!
At this point in the day, I thought I was going to die from so much food and drink (seriously, I think I gained about 7lbs that day) but I managed to save enough space to eat 12 grapes at midnight. In Spain, when the clock chimes at midnight on New Year’s Eve, it is tradition to eat 12 grapes, one at each gong of the clock. Luckily, all my new friends showed me the trick of peeling the grapes first and plucking out the seeds beforehand. I wish I had known that when I was in Madrid!
Afterward was spent giving everyone kisses and wishing them happy New Year’s. Seriously, I don’t think I had been kissed so much as I was that day. First meeting everyone at lunch, saying goodbye to everyone at lunch, meeting more new people at dinner, at midnight, and then saying goodbye that night! So many besitos! We stayed up eating sweets, drinking champagne, playing games and wii, and playing with sparklers and setting off fireworks in the backyard. Seriously, I think all of the fireworks were probably illegal in America, not to mention everyone kept holding them as they went off! When I asked one of the uncles (a doctor) if that was a good idea, he just said, don’t point it at anyone. Noted, thanks doc!
I think we crawled into bed around 4am on our tranquil, calm New Year’s, but all in all I have to say it was so fun and memorable, and so glad I got to experience it with a family!
What did you do for New Year’s this year? Have you ever celebrated it abroad? If so, where, and what was it like?