Hi friends,

La Puerta del Sol is a huge plaza in the very center of Madrid. Wow! There are so many people here! A few children just shouted “¡Hola!” (“Hi!”) to me from across the square!  How fun!

At first, I was curious why this was called a “puerta” (“gate”) instead of a plaza. Then I discovered that in the 15th century, Madrid was surrounded by a city wall and La Puerta del Sol was originally one of the gates through that wall. On the gate was a picture of the rising sun because the gate faced east. That is why it is called “sol” (“sun” in English).

The building in the picture below is the old Royal Postal Office. Many years ago, this was the place that people came to hear the latest news. Today it serves as the Office of the President of the Community of Madrid.

The most famous part of the old Post Office is the clock tower. Every year on December 31st, people from all over gather in La Puerta del Sol to ring in the new year. At midnight, the tradition is that everyone must eat one grape with each of the bell chimes – 12 grapes in total.

Here is the way that La Puerta del Sol looks at night. It is spectacular!

Does your city or your family have a special tradition on New Year’s Eve? What do you do?

Your “Sol” – loving friend,

Peter