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Puerta del Sol clock to chime twice for New Year to include Canary Islands
FOR THE first time in its 150-year history, Madrid's famous Puerta del Sol clock will strike twice on New Year's Eve – once at midnight and once at 01.00 on New Year's Day.
Practically anyone who is in Spain and watching for the chimes on the TV on December 31 will be viewing the clock in the Puerta del Sol square in the centre of the capital – in fact, it serves as the Spanish answer to Big Ben on Old Year's Night.
And traditionally, people in Spain eat 12 grapes, one on every chime, supposedly to ensure 12 months of good luck in the year to come.
But residents in the Canary Islands have to rely on their watches or mobile phone clocks, as they are an hour behind and will still be in 2018 for an hour whilst the rest of the country is already in 2019.
This time, however, after Canary Island regional president Fernando Clavijo met with his Greater Madrid counterpart Ángel Garrido, it has been agreed that the archipelago's New Year will also be chimed in by the country's capital.
Clavijo says this is a great opportunity to 'promote the Canary Islands' as well as 'timely' in light of the Europe-wide debate on the hour change and the ongoing discussion about whether or not the rest of Spain should be in its geographical time zone, which would be the same as the UK, Portugal and Morocco, or an hour behind where it currently is.
The island president says he wants to remind the country of the 'uniqueness' of his region and to make it clear that his government wants it to remain an hour behind the rest of the country.
Garrido says it will be a way of showing the country is 'united' and 'wants to be so always', despite the 'geographical distance' between the mainland and islands.
The time taken to fly to the Canary Islands from the mainland is roughly the same as that to fly to the UK, and twice as long as to Morocco, meaning the archipelago often feels 'left out'.
One of the advantages it cites of being in a different time zone is that it gets 24 mentions a day on national radio – each time the hour strikes and is given on air, DJs will mention the island region separately: “It's three o'clock, and two o'clock in the Canaries.”
Meanwhile, the Puerta del Sol's two sets of New Year chimes will be a help to British expats, who will know when their friends and family 'back home' are celebrating and exactly when to call or text them with well wishes.
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