Christmas in Spain, Celebration And Traditions Of Christmas In Spain
Christmas in Spain – The Spain can be seen more energetic from December 24th to 06th January because of Christmas. The Christmas is called “Navidad” in Spanish and during this time period people of Spain try to fill the happiness in their life. If we talk about Christmas Traditions in the Spain then we want to let our all readers know that it is a mixture of christen and pagan traditions. As per catholic tradition, Christmas is celebrated on 25th December like any other country.
The day is celebrated because Jesus Christ was born on this day and people celebrate it every year. Then the New Year is celebrated on 31st December which is called “Nochevieja” in Spanish. After end of New Year celebration people tie their laces to celebrate “el Dia de Ios Tres Reyes Magos” which is known as “Epipharny” or Three Kings Day in English. So Christmas celebration goes for so long and people enjoy their holidays till 06th of January every year. Here in this article, we have mentioned that how Christmas in Spain is celebrated? So let’s read this article completely.
Merry Christmas in Spain
The Christmas arrives some days before in Spain as the celebration starts from 22nd December every year. On this day, winners of popular Spanish Christmas lottery have been announced. The holidays start from this day and people start preparations to celebrate this day on a huge level. The Christmas Eve known as “Nochebuena” in Spanish is celebrated on 24th of December. On this time, the members of family gathers and eat meat, deserts and special kind of foods that are not eaten during any other time of the year. As per Catholics there is a special activity after dinner. People go for a midnight mass known as “Misa Del Gallo” in Spanish. People sing famous carols and celebrate the birthday of son of god. Mostly guitar, hand drums and some other specific instruments are used for collaboration with carols.
Christmas in Spain
Most people in Spain go to Midnight Mass or ‘La Misa Del Gallo’ (The Mass of the Rooster). It is called this because a rooster is supposed to have crowed the night that Jesus was born. Christmas Eve is known as Nochebuena. In the days before Nochebuena, children might take part in ‘piden el aguinaldo’ where they go and sing carols around their neighbors hoping to get some money!
Most families eat their main Christmas meal on Christmas Eve before the service. The traditional Spanish Christmas dinner was ‘Pavo Trufado de Navidad’ which is Turkey stuffed with truffles (the mushrooms, not the chocolate ones!) or ‘Pularda asada’ (a roasted young hen), although they are not commonly eaten now. In Galicia (a region in north-west Spain, surrounded by water) the most popular meal for Christmas Eve and for Christmas Day is seafood. This can be all kinds of different seafood, from shellfish and mollusks, to lobster and small edible crabs.
Popular deserts and sweets include ‘mazapán’ (made of almonds, sugar and eggs), ‘turrón’ (made of honey and toasted almonds) and ‘polvorones’ (made of flour, butter and sugar).
After the midnight service, one old tradition was for people to walk through the streets carrying torches, playing guitars and beating on tambourines and drums. One Spanish saying is ‘Esta noche es Noche-Buena, Y no Es noche de dormir’ which means ‘Tonight is the good night and it is not meant for sleeping!’
A few different languages are spoken in different regions in Spain. In Spanish Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Feliz Navidad’; in Catalan it’s ‘Bon Nadal’; in Galician ‘Bo Nadal’; and in Basque (or Euskara in basque) ‘Eguberri on’. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.
December 28th is ‘Día de los santos inocentes’ or ‘Day of the Innocent Saints’ and is very like April Fools Day in the UK and USA. People try to trick each other into believing silly stories and jokes. Newspapers and TV stations also run silly stories. If you trick someone, you can call them ‘Inocente, inocente’ which means ‘innocent, innocent’. 28th December is when people all over the world remember the babies that were killed on the orders of King Herod when he was trying to kill the baby Jesus.
New Year’s Eve is called ‘Nochevieja’ or ‘The Old Night’ in Spain and one special tradition is that you eat 12 grapes with the 12 strokes of the clock at Midnight! Each grape represents a month of the coming year, so if you eat the twelve grapes, you are said to be lucky in the new year.
Apart from Christmas, there is another festival that is celebrated in Spain that is about the Christmas Story. It is called Epiphany and is celebrated on 6th January. In Spanish, Epiphany is called ‘Fiesta de Los tres Reyes Mages’: in English this means ‘The festival of the three Magic Kings’. Epiphany celebrates when the Kings or Wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus.
Children have some presents on Christmas Day, but most are opened at Epiphany. Children believe that the Kings bring presents to them at Epiphany. They write letters to the Kings asking for toys and presents. And on Epiphany Eve (January 5th) they leave shoes on windowsills or balconies or under the Christmas Tree to be filled with presents. Gifts are often left by children for the Kings, a glass of Cognac for each King, a satsuma and some walnuts. Sometimes a bucket of water is left for the camels that bring the Kings! If the children have been bad, the Kings might leave pieces of coal made out of sugar in the presents!
Some big towns and cities have Epiphany Parades with each King having a big float that is shaped like a camel. Sometimes there are also real camels in the parade. The Three Kings in the Spanish Epiphany are:
- Gaspar, who has brown hair and a brown beard (or no beard!) and wears a green cloak and a gold crown with green jewels on it. He is the King of Sheba. Gaspar represents the Frankincense brought to Jesus. Frankincense is sometimes used in worship in Churches and showed that people worship Jesus.
- Melchior, who has long white hair and a white beard and wears a gold cloak. He is the King of Arabia. Melchior represents the Gold brought to Jesus. Gold is associated with Kings and Christians believe that Jesus is the King of Kings.
- Balthazar, who has black skin and a black beard (or no beard!) and wears a purple cloak. He is the King of Tarse and Egypt. Balthazar represents the gift of Myrrh that was brought to Jesus. Myrrh is a perfume that is put on dead bodies to make them smell nice; Christians believe that it showed that Jesus would suffer and die.
Christmas in the Basque Country
In the Basque country (which is a part of northern Spain and southern France), on Christmas Eve, children’s presents are delivered by a magical man called Olentzero. He’s a big, overweight man wearing a beret and smoking a pipe. He dresses like a Basque farmer.
Christmas in Catalonia
In the Catalonia region of Spain there’s a Christmas character called ‘Tió de Nadal’ (the Christmas log) or he’s sometimes known as ‘Caga tio’ (the pooping log!). It’s a small hollow log propped up on two legs with a smiling face painted on one end. From the 8th December (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception) Catalan families give the log a few morsels of food to ‘eat’ and a blanket to keep it warm. On Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, the log then ‘gives out’ small gifts! People sing a special song and hit the log with sticks to help its ‘digestion’ and the log drops sweets, nuts, and dried fruits. When garlic or an onion falls out of the log, all of the treats are finished for the year.
Nativity Scenes ‘Pesebres’ are also popular in Catalonia (and all throughout Spain!). Many towns also hold ‘Pastorets’ which are big plays/presentations about the Christmas story, the birth of Jesus. They have lots of music and readings from the Bible. You can find out more about Pastorets on the Pastoret Society of Catalunya’s website (goes to another site).
An unusual figure which is popular and traditional in Pesebres in Catalonia is ‘El Caganer’ which means ‘the poo-er’! And yes, it’s a figure of a person going to the toilet! It’s normally a figure of a Catalan peasant, wearing the traditional red Catalan cap (called a barretina) squatting with their trousers/pants down and well, you know… New versions of El Caganer are now produced each year, often with the faces of celebrities and politicians! This figure has been part of nativity scenes in Catalonia since the early 18th century. It’s often hidden in a back corner of the Pesebre, well away from the stable! Similar figures can also sometimes be found in scenes in other areas in Spain such as Andorra, Valencia and Murcia; in Northern Catalonia (in southern France), Naples (in Italy) and some parts of Portugal.
A special cake called ‘Roscón’ is eaten at Epiphany. Roscón means ‘ring shape roll’. It is very doughy and is bought from a bakery on Epiphany morning. Roscón can be filled with cream or chocolate and contain a little gift.
CHRISTMAS IN SPAIN
Each year between December 24 and January 6, Spain comes alive to celebrate Christmas, or Navidad in Spanish. During this time of the year, everyone strives to fill their days with happiness, joy, and family harmony, although some are more successful than others.
Spanish holidays are a mixture of Christian and pagan traditions. According to Catholic tradition, Christmas is celebrated on December 25 in honor of the day Jesus was born. December 31 is New Year’s Eve, or Nochevieja in Spanish, the time to say goodbye to the year that’s coming to an end and welcome the new year. But the holiday season doesn’t end there! January 6 is a very important holiday in Spain called el Día de los Tres Reyes Magos (known in English as Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day).
CHRISTMAS IN SPANISH
Although Christmas Eve isn’t until December 24, Christmas always comes to Spain a few days early, on December 22. That’s the day the winning numbers of the hugely popular Spanish Christmas Lottery are drawn and announced in song by schoolchildren on live TV. In the months leading up to this event, many Spaniards buy lottery tickets and wait to see if their number will be lucky that year.
Once the lottery prizes have been announced, the holidays have officially started, and everyone starts making final preparations for the big celebrations.
Christmas Eve, or Nochebuena in Spanish, is celebrated on December 24 and is generally a family affair. Usually, members of the extended family gather around a feast of meat, wine, typical foods not eaten at other times of the year, and all kinds of desserts.
For devout Catholics, there’s an important event after dinner: it’s time to go to a special midnight mass called the Misa del Gallo. Church-goers celebrate the birth of the Son of God by singing famous and traditional Christmas carols accompanied by guitars, hand drums, and tambourines.
In many homes, especially ones with children, Nochebuena is a very exciting night: it’s when Santa Claus (in Spanish, Papá Noel) brings gifts to all the children who have been good during the year. Some regions of Spain have their own traditions: in the Basque Country, it’s Olentzero who leaves the gifts, while children from Cataluña and Aragón receive gifts from Tió de Nadal.
At this point, Christmas has only just begun! December 25 is Christmas Day.
Even after the enormous Christmas Eve dinner, on Christmas Day the family comes together to eat again, but not as much as the night before. Especially in families with young children, this day is a time to show find out what Papá Noel brought everyone. The streets fill with children trying out their new roller skates, bikes, and remote control cars.
Even after December 25, there are still plenty of Spanish Christmas traditions to uphold before the end of the year. On December 28, Spain celebrates el Día de los Santos Inocentes (Holy Innocents’ Day). This is another Catholic tradition that has evolved over time and been adapted to the modern world. Today, it is celebrated as a kind of Spanish April Fool’s Day when people play pranks (bromas o inocentadas) on each other. On this day, don’t believe everything you see or hear — chances are good that somebody’s pulling your leg.
We’ve finally made it to December 31, the last day of the year. While Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) is celebrated as a family, Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve) is celebrated with friends.
After dinner and time for socializing, Spaniards spend the final moments before the clock strikes midnight preparing to ring in the new year. People gather in plazas or homes to eat the 12 uvas de la suerte (12 lucky grapes). During the last 12 seconds of the year, everyone eats 12 grapes so that luck will be on their side for the whole year to come.
After midnight, the new year begins and people go out to celebrate it in style. For many, January 1 is a day to sleep in and recover from the night before.
But Christmas still isn’t over!
January 5 is a very exciting day for the youngest members of a Spanish family. All afternoon, each city organizes a special event in which large floats parade through the streets carrying musicians, artists, people in costume, and, most importantly, the Tres Reyes Magos (the Three Kings), who wave to all the children of the city. After the parade, families return home for an early dinner so the children can clean their shoes and leave them in the living room. This way, when the Tres Reyes Magos visit the home in the wee hours of the morning, they’ll know where to leave the presents for each member of the family.
When they wake up on the morning of January 6, children across Spain jump out of their beds and run to the place they left their shoes the night before to see what gifts the Three Kings of Orient have left for them.
The only bad thing about the afternoon of January 6 is that children know that their vacation is ending and school is about to begin again, and adults are reminded that they’ll have to get back to the daily grind. Little by little, everything goes back to normal… until the next Christmas season.