christmas traditions in spain
Because it is such a big country, christmas traditions in spain vary slightly from region to region.
Also, there are so many other nationalities residing here - and they all bring a little of their home customs with them.
Being a Catholic country, religion figures more in the celebrations than it does in - say - the UK.
Until recently, decorations around the home were centred on a nativity scene rather than the Christmas tree.
So ... enjoy an insight into the festive season out here - first of all christmas in spain, then the New Year, rounding up with Three Kings Day.
when do christmas celebrations begin in spain
Actual Christmas celebrations in Spain begin on Christmas Eve.
However, there are a couple of national fiesta days before this in December.
Firstly on 6 December with the d a de la constituci n or Constitution Day.
Secondly, on 8 December with la Inmaculada Concepci n, celebrating Jesus immaculate conception.
christmas traditions in spain - noche buena
In Britain, the main Christmas celebration and meal is during the day on 25 December.
This is not so in Spain, except - of course - amongst foreign residents here!
For the Spanish, the highlight takes place on Christmas Eve - usually in the home.
Spanish women will have had their pinnies on in the kitchen most of the day (hopefully men will start to do more!).
Then, about 9-10 pm, everyone will sit round the table - dressed in their best - and enjoy a huge meal.
Prawns, squid, caviar, salmon might start this feast. Meat or poultry next.
After the meal turr n is passed round - a type of Spanish nougat, made from almonds and honey.
Those who wish to attend Midnight Mass will leave for the Church, children and parents returning home to bed afterwards.
For youngsters, the night is young, and they will go off to party or disco until dawn.
christmas traditions in spain - christmas day
Christmas Day in Spain used to be just like any other fiesta day.
Children in Spain were not visited by Santa and did not receive their presents until the Three Kings.
However, this is changing!
Most children out here will now expect gifts both on Christmas Day and Three Kings!
Boxing Day is not recognised though - and it is usually back-to-work for adults!
christmas traditions in spain - new year
In between Christmas Day and Three Kings is, of course, the New Year.
Nochevieja or old night generally starts with a sumptuous meal, fairly late on New Year s Eve.
This meal will be coming to an end in time for midnight.
If - as is usually the case - the meal is in the home, the TV will be turned on to watch the celebrations at La Puerta del Sol in the center of Madrid.
A few seconds before midnight, the gold ball drops down to strike the giant bell and four warning beats are heard - los quartos.
As each chime rings, you must eat a grape - making a total of twelve grapes by the end of the chimes.
These twelve grapes represent the twelve months of the coming year and - if you successfully finish your grapes - you will have health/happiness/fortune in the year ahead.
Then, you toast in the New Year with plenty of cava - or Spanish champagne.
christmas traditions in spain - three kings
As mentioned earlier, Christmas in Spain features much more around the Bible story.
Apparently, the Three Kings took 12 days to reach Bethlehem, arriving with their gifts on 6 January.
So, this is the day that the children traditionally received their gifts.
In most towns there is a procession of the Three Kings in the evening of 5 January - they wave and throw sweets to the excited children.
The Kings - Beltsasar, Gaspar and Melcior - visit each home during the night and - if the children have been good - will leave presents.
If the child has been naughty, a lump of coal is given instead of presents!
Bakers shops do sell lumps of "coal" - greyish-black lumps of sugar - but these are just used as a joke!
christmas hobbies in spain
As Spain becomes more prosperous, an increasing number of the Spanish enjoy a short holiday/break over the festivities.
Many will take the opportunity to go ski-ing - either in the Spanish Pyrenees to the north of the country, or the Sierra Nevada down south.
Those who prefer the beach and water-sports might head for the Canary Islands, where the sub-tropical climate means really temperate Christmas weather.
And the majority of Spaniards - rich and poor alike - will buy a ticket to try their luck in the huge National Lottery - known as El Gordo or The Fat One - which is drawn on 22 December each year!
So - wherever you are - may I wish you a Fel z Navidad and Fel z A o Nuevo!
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christmas traditions in spain - related articles
Spanish Drinks For The Festive Season.
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