Christmas is probably the most important celebration of the year for the majority of people in many countries. Spain is not an exception. Christmas period in Spain even has its own name, Pascuas. As in many countries, Chrismas in Spain for some people has more religious meaning for others it is more a joyful and fun holiday time with their families and friends.
Hogueras de Navidad
If you don’t know this yet, you will be surprised that before Christmas Eve in Spain have a tradition to celebrate so-called Hogueras de Navidad.It is celebrated on 21st of December and originates from Granada and Jeasn. Hogueras de Navidad is the ritual to light the fires and jump over them during the shortest day of the year. By doing so it is believed that one will get protected from illnesses.
Christmas Eve which in Spain is called Nochebuena is celebrated in 24th of December every year and it is the first day of the winter holiday season. Unlike in many countries, Nochebuena is a day off in Spain. It is the time dedicated to the family to gather together for large and long-lasting meal normally dinner. Turron (nougat), Polvorones (Spanish almond cookies), marzipan figurines, roasted lamb, suckling pig, and seafood are only a few number of dishes which normally are served and enjoyed during Nochebuena. After dinner at midnight, there is a tradition to exchange small gifts. The religious people normally attend the Midnight Mass called Misa de Gallo in English the Rooster Mass dedicated to the birth of Jesus. The name of the mass comes from the belief that birth of Jesus first was announced by a rooster. Others believe in the motto that since it is Nochebuena there is no time to sleep. Thus, they spent the entire night partying, singing Christmas carols and dancing.
Christmas unlike Christmas Eve for many Spanish people is the quiet day. There aren’t a lot of action going on. Relaxation at home, lunch and/or dinner with family, time at the church, catching up with friends are a few perfect examples of typical Spanish Christmas Day. Apart from that Spain has the uncommon tradition to set the swings with the music in the squares and allow the children to swing on them. In Barcelona, you can attend the Christmas swimming competition called Copa Nadal which dates back to 1907. In Catalonia, a typical Catalan character called El Tio de Nadal or Caga Tio which is a wooden log with a painted face and a red beret takes the traditional part of Christmas day. Now you are probably wondering and where is Santa? Well, Santa is not such a big thing in Spain as it is in the rest of the world. Kids normally get just one small gift during Christmas and rest are left for Three Kings to bring on 6th of January.
Dia de Los Santos Inocentes
In between Christmas and New Year Spain has another celebration called Dia de Los Santos translated as Holy Innocents’ Day. The celebration takes place on 28th of December and is dedicated to make jokes and pranks all day. Although Dia de Los Santos is popular in entire Spain probably the most famous one is held in Malaga and it is called Fiesta Mayor de Verdiales. The celebration is live for over 50 years and involves competition of 25 Pandas (Verdiales Groups) from local villages in the three categories: Almogia, Montes and Comares. Those three categories represent different styles of performances. Apart of Fiesta Mayor de Verdiales of Malaga, there is also Fiesta de Los Locos, Crazy People Celebration in Jalance, Els Enfarinats Festival or Flour Battle in Ibi as well as Devil’s Day in Castille de la Mancha.
Accumulate the energy and be ready to start a celebration marathon of Spain! You cannot miss anything 🙂
Happy Christmas to all!