A Spanish Christmas is celebrated in many ways …
When we learn a language, it is very important to learn about the country’s culture and traditions, as only then you will be able to fully understand the language, the country and its people. That’s why today we will talk about a Spanish Christmas and the traditions that are enjoyed in Spain.
All over the world, Christmas is seen as a time of the year to spend with our loved ones, to relax for those few days off and also as a time to give and to receive both love and presents.
Here are some of the most common Spanish Christmas Traditions…
La Campaña de Navidad
In Spain, it is normal to start seeing Christmas decorations around November and they increase un number as the 25th of December gets closer. Many important buildings are decorated as well as the streets and houses. Around November is when the “Campaña de Navidad” (Christmas campaign) begins. It is carried out in most shopping malls as well as smaller stores. The main point of the “Campaña de Navidad” is to decorate the stores with Christmas’ decorations and offer deals and have sales to encourage people to start their Christmas shopping early.
El Portal de Belén
A very typical decoration found in Spain during this time is the “Portal de Belén” which is a representation of Jesus and his parents. These decorations can be found in houses as well as stores, bars and restaurants and, in some parts of the country, when it gets closer to Christmas, you may find live representations of this tradition on the streets in the form of a live nativity.
La Lotería Nacional de Navidad
The National Christmas Lottery is a very big event in Spain. The lottery is celebrated the 22nd of December around 9am in the morning. Most people in Spain buy at least one ticket, as this lottery has become almost a tradition.
These tickets can be bought from July all the way up to the 21st of December and most people from Spain await the day to see if they have won “El Gordo” (the jackpot) or not.
On top of this, every year a special advertisement is shown on TV which reminds people about this special lottery. It is normally a rather moving advert which tends to encourage people to cherish the Christmas holidays more.
The video below is one of our favourite adverts from 2014: “El Mayor Premio es Compartirlo”
Nochebuena y el Día de Navidad
Christmas Eve (Nochebuena) is also a strongly celebrated day in Spain. It is celebrated all over the country. The meals that are served that day will vary depending on the area but they all have something in common: there is always a lot of food served on the table. After the big meal, it is common to eat something sweet, commonly “turrones” which are similar to chocolate bars but are normally thicker and made with different types of nuts.
Christmas Day (el Día de Navidad) is commonly celebrated with family. Everyone opens the presents left under the tree by Santa Claus (also known as “Papá Noel”). Children obviously love this part and this part is mainly focused towards the youngest of the family, even though adults also have presents waiting for them. The meal for this day may vary depending on the area of the country but it is also very common to have lots of different dishes served.
In some parts of Spain, on the 26th of December, people also celebrate what is known as “Sant Esteve” (which is similar to Boxing Day in the UK). This day is normally spent at home with family and the food that is served is normally leftovers from the days before.
Nochevieja y Año Nuevo
On the 31st of December, it is very common to meet up with family and friends, either at home or outdoors, to celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year. There are many parties and celebrations held over the country and fireworks are also quite common in big cities. When it gets to midnight, it is common to drink champagne and eat twelve grapes (uvas de la suerte) one each chime of the bells that mark the beginning of a new year as it is said that it brings good luck. In some areas of the country, it is “recommended” to wear red underwear to begin the year, as it also is said to bring good luck.
Día de Reyes
In Spain, on the 6th of January, we have another celebration which is similar to Christmas: children get presents and sweets and family meet up to spend the day together.
The day before el Día de Reyes, in the evening, the streets from all over the country hold what is known as “La Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos”. The Three Kings and their helpers pass the streets throwing sweets to children and greeting them. Children really enjoy being on the street grabbing sweets and saying hello to the Three Kings who will bring them presents if they have been good over the year.
On this day, it is very common to eat a “Roscón de Reyes”, which is a type of sponge cake with a hole in the middle and nuts and fruits on top. This cake holds two surprises: a small figurine and a dried bean. Whoever finds the figurine gets to put on the crown that comes with the cake (even though children end up asking for it, to have fun) and whoever finds the dried bean has to buy the following year’s “Roscón”.
So, there you have a quick summary of some fun Spanish Christmas traditions. Wherever you spend Christmas this year we wish you all love and happiness.