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Thursday, December 15, 2005 (read 1859 times)
Spanish Christmas Calendarby Lee
With the holiday season fast approaching, it's only natural that our thoughts turn to celebrations, family gatherings, and all things Christmas! The main difference between a Spanish Christmas (Navidad) and many other versions is the importance of January 6th. In Spain, it's on this day that children receive their presents, which are traditionally left by The Three Kings (Los Reyes Magos) rather than Father Christmas or Santa Claus. Most families have a "belén" (nativity scene) on display in their house and they eat together on Christmas Eve.
This is the calendar of celebrations for Spanish Christmas:
Public holiday of 'Inmaculada' (Feast of the Immaculate Conception), beginning the religious celebrations. Most noticeable in Seville.
In a few cities, including Granada, the celebration of "Hogueras" (Bonfires) is the observance of the winter solstice. People jump through fires to protect themselves from illness.
Christmas lottery! Everyone's hoping to win "El Gordo" (The fat one).
Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) is an important family gathering. The menu varies but prawn starters followed by roast lamb would be a typical meal, rounded off with the traditional Christmas almond nougat called "Turrón". Of course there would also be plenty of fine Spanish wine consumed!
The 25th is Christmas day, and a national holiday in Spain; another large family meal is common practice. Due to influence of foreign traditions children may receive a small gift on this morning but the real day for presents in Spain is the 6th of January.
Santos Inocentes (Day of the Innocents). This is the equivalent of April Fools day with people playing practical jokes on each other. Don't believe everything you hear on the news that day either!
Nochevieja (New Years Eve) is a big celebration all over Spain with street parties and special nights in bars and hotels. On the stroke of midnight, the tradition is to eat 12 grapes, one for each chime. Each grape eaten is believed to bring luck for each month of the new year. In Madrid, and other large cities, people gather in the main square (Puerta del Sol in Madrid) and eat the grapes, washing them down with a celebratory glass of Cava. After midnight, its time to head out into the night until after sunrise.
Dia de año nuevo (New year's day) A low key public holiday with many people sleeping off their hangovers.
There are processions all over Spain this evening as the three kings arrive. Children leave their shoes out, and during the night, the Three Wise Men visit leaving gifts.
The feast of the Epiphany (día de Reyes). For Spanish children, this is the most important day of the year when they wake to find gifts left by the three kings: Melchor, Gaspar and Balthazar.
People return to work or school (after a few moans and groans) and Christmas in Spain is all over until the festivities begin again next year.
We'll have to wait until February for the next Spanish "fiesta". In February is time for Carnival in Spain (Carnaval)