Spanish Christmas and its
The Christmas season
officially starts of December 8th with 'The Feast of the Immaculate
During the season in all Spanish
homes you will find a Nativity Scene. The Spanish are very proud
'Nacimiento' ( Nativity Scene) and they are often handed down from
generation to generation.
The cow is also venerated at this time as the Spanish
believe it was a cow that kept the baby Jesus warm in the stable.
Christmas Eve is known as 'Noche Buena' (The Good Night)
and traditionally children were only given sweets on this night. Now
families tend to follow other European countries and the children are
given some of their presents.
On this night the family will attend Mass and then go
home to their Christmas feast of turkey usually stuffed with truffles. In
some areas the festivities will go on all night and include carol singing.
Christmas Day is spent with more feasting and attending Church.
On 28th December comes the celebration
of 'Day of the Holy Innocents' and its a bit like 'April Fools Day' in
New Years Eve is celebrated at home with family and friends or in bars
and restaurants. It is a tradition to eat twelve grapes on the strokes of
midnight. Those that manage this (its not as easy as it
sounds) are heading for a year of prosperity and good luck.
The next day of celebration is January
5th (Epiphany). Throughout Spain on this day the children look forward to
the visit from the Three Kings. In the evening the Kings Parade will visit
most towns and sweets are thrown to the children. That night the children
stuff their shoes with straw or grass in the hope that the Kings will
visit and feed their camels with the contents and in return leave
presents. Only good children will receive presents, those that have not
been good will only get a lump of coal. Nowadays it is possible to buy a
sweet that has been made to look like coal.
January 6th is the Spanish equivalent of our Christmas
Day. This is when the children get their presents. Another tradition
followed on this day is the 'Roscon de Reyes' (Epiphany Crown). This is a
type of bread baked in the shape of a crown. In the crown is a toy and a
bean. The person who finds the toy is said to have a lucky year ahead, if
you find the bean you must pay for the cake or refund the person who
bought it. These cakes can be bought in most bakeries but will need to be
ordered in advance as they are very popular.
This may sound as if the Spanish
Christmas is one long holiday, but unlike in England where it is often
stretched into a two week holiday, in Spain it only means three days off
work, Christmas Day, New Years Day and Three Kings, and for many workers
in bars and restaurants, work continues as usual.
The English influence over Christmas
can be seen in all holiday towns and resorts. A few years ago it would
have been difficult if not impossible to find a Christmas Tree, now they
are readily available. The biggest change however, has been that the
children now expect two lots of presents, not only has this changed
Christmas for the Spanish but now all English children look forward to
January 6th and the extra presents from the Three Kings.