Five Spanish New Year traditions to bring luck for 2023

Celebrating 'Nochevieja' in Spain? Here is The Local's guide to ensuring you start 2023 with as much good fortune as possible.

Five Spanish New Year traditions to bring luck for 2023
A couple eats grapes to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Puerta Del Sol square in Madrid, just one of the Nochevieja traditions that Spain has. (Photo by Rebeca MAYORGA / AFP)

Spain has more than a few traditions that are meant to bring good fortune and love, and all of them can be upheld even if this New Year’s fiesta is just in the company of close friends and family.

12 lucky grapes

As midnight approaches on New Year’s Eve, everyone across Spain will be clutching a very important talisman: 12 grapes to bring luck and fortune throughout the coming year.

It’s essential for each grape to be popped in the mouth on the dong of each stroke of midnight, no mean feat when you are surrounded by giggling friends in a crowd of people.

To make things easier, supermarkets sell cans containing 12 small, seedless grapes, perfect for popping in your pocket and keeping them to hand wherever you decide to celebrate.

READ MORE: Why the Spanish see in the New Year by gobbling up 12 grapes

You have to eat 12 grapes when the bells chime at midnight, but it’s advisable to eat one grape at a time. (Photo by AFP)

Toast with cava

Of course all of Spain raises a glass of Cava to toast in the New Year (Once the grapes have all been gobbled) and tradition has it that for that extra chance of the year ahead bringing prosperity, drop a gold object into the glass before the toast.

A gold wedding ring or gold coin will do the trick, but if it’s love you crave, some say dropping in a red fruit such as a strawberry or raspberry will make sure you meet that special person.

Remember – for the charm to work make sure to down the cava in one gulp.

READ ALSO: Seven great Spanish tipples to enjoy over Christmas

Cava is similar to champagne, just don’t tell the French that. (Photo by JAIME REINA / AFP)

Wear red underwear

Talking of love, the only sure-fire way of Cupid shooting an arrow in your direction during 2023 is to make sure you are decked out in red underwear to see in the new year. Some say that it only works if the undies were a gift, while others firmly believe you have to give them away before daybreak if the magic is to work.

Ring in the new year in style with some sexy red underwear. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP)

Start the year on the right foot

In Spain, tradition dictates that you literally have to start the year on the right foot. And that means not only taking the first step after midnight with your right foot but putting your right foot forward for every important first that day whether it be stepping into your house when you come home from New Year’s Eve celebrations and stepping out in the morning.

Don’t kick off the new year on the wrong foot in Spain. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

Eat lentils

A dish of hearty lentils on New Year’s Day isn’t just great for the hangover it is also said to bring you luck. Normally served in a stew with chorizo, the lentils are said to represent small coins, designed once again to bring wealth and prosperity in the year ahead.

READ ALSO:  The essential A to Z of Spanish Christmas vocabulary 

A hearty dose of lentils should also help fight off that New Year’s Eve hangover. Photo: Brooke Larke/Unsplash

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What are the fines for not picking up dog poo in Spain?

It's one of the biggest gripes of foreigners living in Spain: dog mess on the street. But what are the fines for not picking it up in Spain?

What are the fines for not picking up dog poo in Spain?

According to the Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE), 40 percent of Spanish households have a dog. 

In fact, the Spanish have more dogs than they do children: while there are a little over 6 million children under the age of 14 in Spain, there are over 7 million registered dogs in the country, and if you live in Spain, you’ll likely known that walking the Spanish streets can feel a little like doing an obstacle course due to sheer amount of dog mess.

The latest estimates suggest it’s as much as 675,000 tonnes of doodoo that has to be cleaned up every single year in Spain.

More responsible dog owners in Spain carry around a bottle of water mixed with detergent or vinegar to clean up their dog’s urine and small plastic bags to pick up number twos, but many seem to either turn a blind eye or somehow miss it and leave it for someone to step in.

READ ALSO: Does Spain have a dog poo problem?

Doggy DNA

The problem has become so bad in some places that in many Spanish regions doggy DNA databases have been created to catch the culprits. Over 35 Spanish municipalities require dog owners to register their pets’ saliva or blood sample on a genetic database so they can be traced and fined, if necessary. 

You can find a list of all the municipalities in Spain that DNA test dog poo here.

If you’re actually caught letting your dog do its business in the street and not cleaning it up (which is rare, more on that below), technically speaking, authorities you can be sanctioned with fines (multas) ranging from €30 all the way up to €1,500 for repeat offendences, in some in cities.

In fact, there are eight cities in particular where dog poo penalties can be particularly pricey and exceed €500: Madrid, Albacete, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Las Palmas, Badajoz, Cuenca, Huelva and Girona.

How much are the fines in different parts of Spain?

READ ALSO: Clean or dirty? How does your city rank on Spain’s cleanliness scale? 


In Madrid, fines can range from €751 to €1,500 for repeat offenders.


Barcelona, not picking up dog poop warrants a fine of €300, which increase to €900 if it occurs in certain areas such as a playground.


In Alicante, fines go up to €300.


In Murcia, they range from €30 to €300.

Canary Islands

In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, fines can be as high as €900, and in Las Palmas up to €750.


In Palma de Mallorca it can be as high as €750


In the southern Andalusian city, fines can set you back anything from €75- €500.


In Valencia, the fines can be anything up to €750 for repeat offenders.

Enforcement issues?

Yet despite these hefty fines, it seems that very few local authorities in Spain actually dish out dog poo fines.

Looking at official municipal data from 2019, for example, most provincial capitals (31) did not impose more than 10 sanctions throughout the entire year, and in some cities, not a single person was fined, including in Jaén, Tarragona, Teruel and Zamora.

According to Spanish newspaper El País, in Barcelona – an enormous city with almost 200,000 dogs – only 41 people were fined in the whole of 2022. It’s safe to say that there were more than 41 dog poos that weren’t cleaned up that year, so it seems that fining lazy dog owners doesn’t seem a pressing priority in Barcelona nor across the rest of the country.

Despite this, as a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to clean up after it and make sure you’re not adding to the problem. You never know when it might be your turn to accidentally step in one or when you may be caught and slapped with a hefty fine.