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Christmas in Spain - Guide to Christmas in Spain traditions at Christmas in Spain

Christmas in Spain is not as huge a commercial occasion as is the case in many other western cities. Christmas lights are usually lit in the main cities in the first week of December by which time the shops are fully stocked with Christmas supplies. Nothing like the UK where the end of summer marks the build up to Christmas. Most homes have a manger, like cathedrals and churches. These are complete with carved figures Christmas is a deeply religious holiday in Spain. The country's patron saint is the Virgin Mary. However Christmas in Spain is full of the usual Christmas festivities.

spain christmas

8th December - Christmas in Spain officially begins with the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

22nd December - All over Spain people never stray far from a TV or radio as the Christmas lottery is drawn over a period of many hours. Everybody in Spain buys tickets for this lottery in the hope of winning El Gordo (the fat one)

24th December - Christmas Eve is called Nochebuena in Spanish (Goodnight) and it is the most important family gathering of the year. In the evening people often meet early for a few drinks with friends then return home to enjoy a meal with the family. Many bars and restaurants close in the evening. Prawn starters followed by roast lamb would be a typical meal rounded off with a typically Christmas sweet called turrón which is a nougat made of toasted sweet almonds. Another typical festive sweet is called Polvorones which is made from almonds, flour and sugar. Cava, Catalan champagne, would be the chosen drink for the Christmas toast though plenty fine Spanish wines will also be consumed with the meal.

25th December - Children may receive a small gift on Nochebuena but the day for presents is 6th January, Epiphany, when the Three Kings bring gifts for the children. Christmas Day is a national holiday in Spain so shops are closed. A large family meal at lunchtime is common though it's becoming more common to see families eating out on the afternoon of Christmas day.

31st December - New Year's Eve is known as NocheVieja. It is a big celebration all over the country with street parties and special nights in hotels and clubs everywhere. Until midnight people tend to stay at home and on the stroke of midnight it is traditional to eat 12 grapes, one on each stroke of the clock to bring good luck for the new year.

1st January - A low key public holiday.

5th January - There are processions all over Spain this evening where sweets are thrown from the floats to all the people who come out to watch.

6th January - This is the Feast of the Epiphany when the Three Kings arrived in Bethlehem. For Spanish children this is the most important day of the year when they wake up to find that Los Reyes Magos (the Three Kings) have left gifts for them in their house.


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