Navidad y fiestas de fin de año en España

The first thing I noticed about Christmas in Spain is that it bares little resemblance to the Christmas we have in Scotland. El tiempo still feels like late summer, no hay muchos mercados navideños and where we eat mince pies, los españoles comen polvorones.

Polvorón (from polvo, the Spanish word for powder) is a delicious, sweet powdery cake that is typical during the festive period.

Since learning a lot about Spanish culture, I have realised that Christmas is only a small part of the end of year celebrations here in Spain. En este artículo, voy a enseñaros a little bit about the 5 main celebrations over the Christmas period:

El Gordo

The Christmas celebrations start el 22 de diciembre with an infamous national lottery. Throughout the month of December, you will find many people en la calle y los mercados selling these tickets (20 euros per share), but it is mostly related with being a friendly co-worker tradition. See below a video promoting the lottery that I watched when I was around your age in my NAT5 Spanish class too. This year, I am participating in my first Lotería Nacional (o El Gordo) with my colleagues in the school and it feels great to be a part of something cultural like this.

La nochebuena y la Navidad

La nochebuena (Christmas Eve) is a very special night in Spain, and some have even told me they would call it more important than la Navidad itself. It is a time for the Spanish to gather together with their families and eat a big feast. Since Spain is historically a religious country, it is also common to go to a mass- la misa del gallo.

In terms of Christmas day, there aren’t many differences. Spain has taken a lot of the traditions from the US and UK so it is pretty normal to see a family gathered around a plate of pavo y verduras but with the addition of some Spanish sides: jamón ibérico, todo tipo de ricos quesos, y mariscos.

La plaza del ayutamiento

La nochevieja

While those in Scotland are singing Auld Lang Syne and kissing their grans on the cheek, Spain has a famous- and odd- tradition for New Years Eve. As the clock strikes 12, everyone eats 12 uvas (to the rhythm of the 12 bell chimes) for good luck. The children in my school have told me it’s a bit of a game as it is harder than it seems to eat 12 grapes this quickly. ¿conocíais esta tradición?

El día de los tres reyes magos

The last of the Christmas festivities takes us to el 6 de enero: el día de los tres reyes magos. los niños en España receive gifts from not only Papá Noel, but from los tres reyes magos too. ¡Qué suerte! In order to receive the gifts, the children must write letters to the three kings telling them they have behaved well and would like particular gifts. The night before,  todas las familias tienen la costumbre de dejarles un poco de agua, de turrón o de leche para que recuperen fuerzas ellos. Does this tradition sound familiar?

El Turrón: a nugget dessert typical of Spain during Christmas

Did you learn anything new about the differences between Christmas in Spain and Scotland?

¡Feliz Navidad a todos y todas!

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