If this will be your first time celebrating Christmas in Spain then it is high time to learn about the Spanish Christmas customs or traditions as they might differ from those to which you are already accustomed. Below we’ve listed some that you may just need to adopt whilst living here in Spain 🙂
Christmas eve is celebrated on December 24 and is of huge importance, it is generally a big family affair. Usually, members of the extended family gather around a feast which although differs depending on where you are in Spain will almost certainly include; jamón (Spanish ham), marisco (sea food), cordero (leg of lamb), pescado (fish) of meat, wine and all kinds of desserts
In many homes, especially ones with children, Nochebuena is a very exciting night: it’s when Papá Noel (Santa Claus) 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.
- Caga Tió (literally means pooping log!)
The Caga Tió – or Tió de Nadal (Christmas Log) as he is sometimes called – is a smallish wooden log, covered in a blanket and usually given a warm, smiley face. You’ll find Caga Tió for sale in Christmas markets across the two main provinces from which he originates, Catalonia and Aragon. Come Christmas time, the log is expected to ‘poop’ presents for children and their parents, much to the amusement and amazement of younger spectators.
The Spanish National Lottery is a big deal at Christmas time, and almost everyone plays it, making it the biggest lottery draw in the world. The Christmas Lottery is so big that it has been given the nickname ‘El Gordo’ or the ‘Fat One’, because of the huge amounts of cash you can win. Taking place on December 22, it has been held every year since 1812, and the winning numbers are sung out by school children.
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). For each grape, you make one wish for the new year. The goal, when the clock strikes midnight, eat each grape, one by one, in 12 seconds.
Beléns are elaborate nativity scenes – it is the Spanish word for Bethlehem. More than just a stable with animals and figurines, however, the Spanish beléns can be huge scenes, complete with many different houses, farms, rivers and marketplaces.
- Dia de los Santos Inocentes (Fool’s day)
The Spanish versión of April’s fool’s day takes place on December 28th.
- Los Reyes Magos
It’s the Three Kings (Melchior, Gaspar and Baltazar), who bring children their gifts in Spain, not Santa Claus (although he is becoming more popular now, too), and on January 6, not Christmas Day.
- Roscón de Reyes
The roscón is a sweet bread (almost like a brioche) that is baked into a circle or an oval shape. It isn’t always filled, but traditional fillings include whipped cream, chocolate cream, meringue or custard cream. It is typical to decorate the cake with colorful candied fruits, creating what looks like a king’s crown full of sparkling jewels. Bakers hide small trinkets throughout the cake, so be careful when biting into this pastry.
To really integrate with the local, it is fundamental to learn the language and to understand Spanish culture and traditions. We can help to organize classes for all of the family.
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We ensure that each step of the process is meticulously taken care of. We are experienced educational and relocation consultants who have done numerous overseas and interstate moves over the last 20 years, so we know exactly what it takes to make your move to Spain as smooth as possible.
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