Although it may be hard to believe, Christmas has been felt here since mid-November, when ubiquitous preparations for Christmas begin. Streets, roundabouts, shops and shopping centers are slowly decorating themselves with Christmas themes, and at home, preparations and searching for ever newer characters for the Christmas Crib are starting.
The most popular figure of the crib is the famous "el caganer" - don't ask me why, because each version I met was different from the previous one. The fact is, however, that in no crib this character can be missing. It is the Christmas Crib in Spain that is much more popular than the Christmas tree, although from year to year the tree more and more often can be found in Spanish homes. The period of "dressing something more than just a sweater" is already beginning, which is a sign for us that winter and Christmas are just around the corner.
December 22nd is undoubtedly one of the most important throughout this period. This is the day when the famous Spanish Christmas lottery draw "El Gordo" takes place. The streets freeze and in the background (absolutely in every place) from the very morning you can hear the very characteristic "singing" of the numbers. I am firmly convinced that there is no Spaniard in Spain who hasn’t bought a lottery ticket at least once in his / her life. It can be said that December 22nd is the beginning of the official celebration.
Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner in Spain
The Christmas Eve tradition is known in Spain and it is celebrated with the family during a gala dinner but not only that. After dinner and the family meeting, you also celebrate outside with friends.
The Spanish Christmas Eve menu is very varied, most often they are seafood or poultry (e.g. turkey), although each region has a typical dish. Of course, the table must not lack freshly cut Spanish "jamón" ham and mandarins just brought from the orchard. Desserts usually consist of delicious "turrón" and marzipan, or desserts of Arabic origin made of almond and honey which are also popular. Once they were prepared in confectioneries of each city, now they can be bought ready in a store.
At midnight, practicing Catholics go to the Midnight Mass (Misa del Gallo)
Christmas day is spent with family and friends, dinner is a solemn meal. In many places, roast mutton is traditionally prepared for this day, in others, like on Christmas Eve, seafood, poultry, Spanish ham and tangerines lead the way.
December 28th – Dia de los Inocentes
I don't know if you know, but in Spain, December 28th is the equivalent of our Fools' Day. Of course, the best fun is for children who in some regions, mainly in small villages, visit the homes of their families and neighbors and receive sweets in exchange for a carol.
New Year's Eve and New Year
New Year's Eve in Spain is divided into two parts: the first - a gala dinner with the family, the second - outdoor celebration. At 00:00, with the beating of the clock, tradition requires eating 12 grapes to ensure prosperity for the next 12 months. Some places have its extraordinary traditions. In Coin for example all residents come for New Year's Eve in disguises and celebrate their entry into the New Year with friends. Often the preparation of disguises in groups of friends takes several weeks or even several months.
Epiphany is celebrated extremely loudly. The day before, on January 5th, beautiful parades and performances are organized, during which tons of sweets are scattered. The children are waiting for them the most, because it is the Three Kings who bring gifts along with the "rain" of sweets. In Algeciras, children collect cans during the holidays to be able to prepare so-called Arrastre, which is nothing but cans on a string. They drag them along the streets on Januar 5th in the morning, making sure that the Three Kings do not bypass their home this night and give them gifts.
Roscón de Reyes cake
On January 6th, you eat a cake called "Roscón de Reyes", inside of which two objects are hidden: a bean seed and a figure of one of the Three Kings. The person who finds one of the Three Kings will not only be lucky in the New Year, but will also be crowned with a paper crown attached to the cake. A person who encounters bean seed will not only have to fight bad luck in the New Year, but also to provide the family with "Roscón de Reyes" next year.
Holidays in Spain are an extremely joyful time. The beautifully decorated streets bath in the sun and are full of people, bustle and laughter. Although a little different than in other countries, in their otherness they are equally beautiful, full of tradition and undoubtedly recommendable.