Christmas is a magical time of the year. Wherever you are in the world the excitement and build-up to the big day is hard to miss, and everywhere you go has its own customs and traditions. Spain is no exception.
Whilst Christmas in Spain is far less commercial than in many countries, once December arrives towns and cities throughout the country are decorated with trees and lights and most churches display a “Belen” – a traditional nativity scene featuring Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the three kings.
These are often animated and can be quite a sight. Christmas markets and artificial ice rinks have become popular attractions in recent years.
The El Gordo lottery draw on the 22nd December marks the start of Christmas for many. This is one of the most famous and biggest draws in the world. The draw itself is televised and is a very grand event spread over many hours.
Christmas Eve or Nochebuena (“the good night”) on the 24th December is a family occasion and is normally celebrated around the table tucking into a hearty feast which will undoubtedly include some turron (nougat), marzipan figures and polvorones (a type of shortbread made with flour, butter and sugar).
To celebrate Christmas Day in Spain children are typically given just a few small gifts from Papa Noel as they await the arrival of the three kings on the 6th January for their main gifts.
Nochevieja (“the old night”) is a time for partying and celebration. As the clock strikes midnight it is customary to eat one grape with each stroke of the bell to ensure you will have good luck for each month of the coming year. These are then washed down with some cava and the partying continues into the early hours.
The 5th January is a night of great excitement. Villages, towns and cities across the country host processions to welcome the 3 kings who bring gifts. Many areas in Spain personalise this event, in Javea they have been known to arrive by boat into the port, whilst in villages in the Sierra Nevada they often ski into town! Once they are home the children leave treats for the kings and also something for the camels, and go to bed.
The Dia de los Reyes Magos (“the day of the wise men”) or Epiphany on the 6th January is the final day of Christmas. Children excitedly open the gifts bought by the kings and tuck into a Roscon de Reyes – a traditional bun decorated with crystallised fruit or coloured sweets and filled with cream.
A surprise will be hidden inside the roscon (typically a figurine, but sometimes a coin) – whoever finds the surprise in their slice is the king of the party!
Whatever your plans for the festive season, all the team at Miralbo Urbana wish you a Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo!!