Thousands of revelers jammed Madrid's central Puerta del Sol square on Tuesday, to ring in 2015, a day early. The horn-tooting, hat-wearing crowd roared and jumped up and down as the clock in the 18th century Real Casa de Correos struck midnight, even though the new year was to start 24 hours later.
Many followed the Spanish New Year's custom and gobbled a grape on each of the 12 chimes at midnight for 12 months of good luck, while others counted the clangs of the clock out loud. Some people used French fries or chocolate-covered peanuts instead of grapes.
AdvertisementThe city officials test the chimes the day before New Year's Eve to ensure they are working properly and every year several people come for the trial run to start celebrating early. Many of them said they came to avoid the much larger crowd that turns out on New Year's Eve for the countdown in the square, watched live by millions across Spain on television.
Fatima Rodriguez de Ahumada, who came with her husband and sister said, "Tomorrow it would be impossible to come down here, there would be too many people. We are going to spend New Year's Eve at home and we will watch it all on television. This way we get a taste of what it is like."
A smaller crowd of people, including many couples with young children, turned up for an earlier test of the chimes held at noon on Tuesday.