Feature: Discover Christmas in Spain

Thursday, 17 November 2011 9:49 AM

Christmas seems to have taken us by surprise this year and is creeping up on us fast. If you’re planning a winter city break then you’ll probably be wondering how the festival is celebrated around Europe. Each week we’ll be looking into how Christmas is celebrated abroad, focusing on a different country each week. This week we’re looking at Spain.

Christmas in Spain is very religious festival, which sees many families attend church of various religious days. The festive season begins with Immaculada (the feast of the immaculate conception) on 8 December.

A big Spanish Christmas tradition is the Christmas lottery or El Gordo (the fat one). Each year Spanish families hope to win big and all gather round the TV on the night of 22 December to see if this year will bring them luck.

A traditional Spanish Christmas dinner will usually be eaten on Christmas Eve with family and feature some type of cooked meat such as lamb or seafood. Special Spanish Christmas treats include turrón, sweet nougat made with honey and almonds and marzipan figurines.

Although the Spanish recognise the 25 December as Christmas Day they don’t actually properly celebrate with present giving until 6 January. This is the day when supposedly the Three Wise Men or Three Kings came to visit the baby Jesus giving him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

On the eve of 5 January, many towns and cities have large parades or processions filled with floats and elaborate costumes. Spanish children put out their shoes on this night, (not stockings) ready to be filled with presents from the Three Kings or Los Reyes Magos as they call them. Sometimes children fill their shoes with hay for the camels of the Three Kings too. However, in recent years Father Christmas has become popular too and many families will celebrate both traditions and children get twice as many presents!

In between these two celebrations the Spanish also celebrate 28 December, el día de los Santos Inocentes, which is like a Spanish version of our April Fool’s Day. On this day people play practical jokes on each other and often the media will come up with bizarre stories to fool people too.

New Year’s Eve in Spain or NocheVieja is celebrated much the same as it is over here with big parties, however when midnight arrives, tradition has it that you have to eat one grape on each of the twelve chimes, bringing you good luck for the year to come.

So if you’re heading to Spain this Christmas remember to bring a spare pair of shoes and don’t forget the grapes at midnight. Next week we’ll be looking at how Christmas is celebrated in Portugal.
 

Alternative Christmas markets

Top five alternative Christmas markets

Forget the likes of Germany and Eastern European favourites, Budapest, Krakow and Prague this year and why not head to some alternative Christmas market destinations for something a little different this festive season?

Christmas tree in Old Riga, Latvia

Feature: Discover Christmas in Latvia

It’s almost Christmas now and over the past few weeks idealshortbreaks.co.uk have been discovering how the holiday is celebrated all over Europe. So far we’ve looked at Christmas in Spain and Portugal and this week we’re focusing on the small Baltic State of Latvia.

Portuguese Christmas Cake - Bolo Rei

Feature: Discover Christmas in Portugal

Christmas is now only one month away and we’re looking forward to all our festive traditions. This got us to wondering how Christmas traditions differ around the world. So, each week we’ve been discovering how Christmas is celebrated in different countries in Europe. Last week we looked at the tradition of Christmas in Spain and this week we’re focusing on Portugal.

Discover Christmas in Greece

Feature: Discover Christmas in Greece

Christmas is nearly here, less than two weeks to go! If you’re headed off on a short winter break this Christmas, then you may be interested to know how this important holiday is celebrated throughout Europe. Over the last few weeks we’ve discovered how Christmas is celebrated in Spain, Portugal and Latvia, and this week we’re looking at Greece.

Unusual new year's eve traditions in Europe

Unusual New Year’s Eve Traditions in Europe

Would you eat grapes on New Year’s Eve? How about smashing a plate in your best friend’s garden? We've been exploring the best and most unusual 'good luck' traditions still celebrated across Europe, to celebrate the beginning of a New Year.

One of Berlin's Christmas markets

Europe’s top ten Christmas markets

The Christmas season is officially upon us and it’s time to get into the Christmas spirit. What better way to get into that festive feeling, than organising a short break to one of Europe’s best Christmas markets? Here’s a list of our top ten favourites to get you started.

Celebrate Christmas in style in Tenerife

Tenerife: perfect for a Christmas mini break

Not everyone wants to have a white Christmas - for some people the thought of the festive period in sunshine and warmth is much more appealing. If you’re thinking of escaping the UK for a short break at Christmas, consider Tenerife as an option.

The Royal Palace in Seville

Feature: A taste of the true Spain

When you think of a break in Spain, you would usually picture a beach destination, and while Spain has some great beach resorts and beachside cities, some of its best cities are situated in its interior. Head to Seville on a city break and you’re thirst for Spanish culture will certainly be quenched.

Coffee with a local in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

This week IdealShortBreaks.co.uk is in Amsterdam drinking strong black coffee with local Machteld Ligtvoet, who gives us tips on some of his favourite local haunts – including where you can go to find one of the best views of the city.

Top five alternative Christmas markets

Alternative Christmas markets

Forget the likes of Germany and Eastern European favourites, Budapest, Krakow and Prague this year and why not head to some alternative Christmas market destinations for something a little different this festive season?