It is tradition. Every December 31, the 12 chimes of Puerta del Sol They fill the cheeks of the Spanish with 12 grapes that are swallowed with difficulty. There are several theories that explain the origin of this moment that -on occasions- can become a bit tense.
There are theories that place this tradition on New Year’s Eve 1909, the year in which a surplus harvest in Alicante and a Christmas campaign linked the intake of this food and the last day of the year. with good luck. However, beyond popular beliefs, it is still a somewhat dangerous tradition.
The Spanish Society of Otorhinolaryngology and Head Neck Surgery (SEORL-CCC) recalls that grapes They are the third food that causes the most suffocation in children under five years of age, second only to sausages and candies. For this reason, the medical society recommends taking extreme precautions in its consumption, especially in children under 5 years of age and in people over 65, the most vulnerable to suffocation.
This fruit shares with sausages, due to the characteristic of being a soft food with a soft and somewhat flexible skin; and with the candies, for its perfect shape to stay embedded in the throat of the smallest.
A) Yes, advise not to give grapes to these first by the size of his airways, by the immature swallowing reflex and by his incomplete teeth. Those over 65 years of age and those who suffer from dysphagia, a swallowing disorder consisting of difficulty chewing or swallowing, which affects more than two million Spaniards, should also be careful with them.
This is not something new. Experts have been recommending for years that the children under six years old do not drink grapes. As early as 2016, a study published in the journal Archives of Diseases in Childhood warned that grapes are the third leading cause of food choking in children up to six years of age.
Already in 2017, the Deputy Secretary General of the Spanish Society of Seorl-CCC), Raimundo Gutiérrez Fonseca, reiterated this same warning to the media. Aware of the deep-rooted tradition in Spain, the doctor offered some alternatives.
The most curious is that the little ones take them at the wrong time. While adults will swallow the grapes to the sound of the chimes, that is, in an approximate period of 36 seconds, there are those who advocate lengthening it to the minute; that is, give five seconds of time to ingest each small fruit.
Data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) for 2020 show that accidental choking caused 2,511 deaths, of which 11% are produced by food intake. With these data, choking and accidental suffocation are already the second cause of accidental death in Spain after falls.
For this reason, they consider it “convenient” for adults to have some basic notions of first aid to learn what to do in case of choking. Similarly, in the event of an accident, it is also advisable to go immediately to an emergency service so that a specialist in otorhinolaryngology can assess it.
However, grapes are not the only dangerous food that increases this holiday season. Regarding nuts and polvorones, the SEORL-CCC has been recommending take extreme precautions with nuts and polvorones, since the fragments that are detached when biting them can obstruct the airways.