New Year’s Eve warning in Spain on the dangers of choking on grapes

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The traditional 12 Grapes celebration poses serious risks. Credit: File Image.

AS people across Spain get ready to ring in the New Year with enthusiasm, a hidden danger may go unnoticed in traditional Spanish celebrations.

Eating 12 grapes at midnight on December 31 is a long standing tradition custom filled with superstition in Spain, where families and friends far and wide eat the delectable fruit with great speed as the bells chime. Those who manage to ingest all 12 are said to be destined to have a prosperous new year.

However, the tradition can also be particularly dangerous, most of all to elderly people and children under the age of five years old, where the risk of choking is significantly higher. For this reason, the Spanish Society of Otolaryngology has issued a warning to people in Spain where they advise the most vulnerable groups to avoid partaking in the popular custom.


You may be surprised to hear that grapes are in fact the third most common cause of death among children who lose their lives from food-related incidents, where a lack of caution or awareness from parents can leave many youngsters at great risk. This is mostly because of the size and shape of the small fruit which can cause a blockage in underdeveloped airways and where their outer texture can prove difficult to release through first aid manoeuvres.

Elderly people are also considered to be in grave danger, most especially for those that suffer from dysphagia, a disorder that results in an individual having difficulty chewing or swallowing and which affects more than 2 million Spaniards each year.

A recent study conducted in Scotland also revealed three astonishing vases where children under the age of five chokes whilst eating grapes, where sadly two of the youngsters died. The report provided shocking however pertinent information to parents, where it indicated to lower the chances of choking, to cut the grapes into small pieces. This may provide more of a challenge for the New Year’s Day ritual, however retaining one’s health is the best fortune one could ever receive for 2020.

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A study conducted in Scotland highlighted the risks of children eating grapes. Credit: Archives of Disease and Childhood.

Other measures that can be taken for children is to ensure that they sit up straight and avoid walking around whilst eating, with individuals urged to take a CPR class as a new year’s resolution so that you be knowledgable of what to do when someone needs your help.  

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People across Spain will race to eat grapes when the clock strikes 12. Credit: File Image.

At Euro Weekly News we would like to wish our readers a happy and prosperous New Year!


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