How Is Christmas Celebrated In Spain?
Known as Navidad, Christmas is celebrated with a number of exciting cultural traditions that differ from what you may be accustomed to!
Most people in Spain will likely attend Midnight Mass or “La Misa Del Gallo” (Mass of the Rooster) on Christmas Eve (known as Nochebuena) where they subsequently will eat their main Christmas meal. It is called Mass of the Rooster as a rooster is supposed to have crowed the night Jesus was born. In the days prior to Nochebuena, children might take part in “piden el aguinado” where they may sing carols ‘villancicos’ around friends, family and neighbours in hopes of making a little bit of money!
Traditionally, the Christmas meal was “Pavo Trufado Del Navidad” which is a turkey (much like the English Christmas meal) stuffed with truffles however this is rarely eaten in modern Spain. Now instead, Nochebuena may start with Entremeses which is similar to an appetiser plate filled with traditional cheeses and cuts of meat. Unlike in the UK, seafood plays a huge part in the Spanish Christmas meal and is often served as the main course, with lobster and prawns often chosen as a popular dish. Another favourite is “Cochinillo” or roast suckling pig, often cooked on a bed of onions and potatoes, served across many regions in Spain. For those who need to satisfy a sweet tooth, “Roscon De Reyes” is the Spanish version of a Christmas cake which is essentially a sweet bread ring topped with pieces of candied fruit and sometimes filled with whipped cream. “Turron” is often typically consumed during the festive period and is a type of nougat, typically made from Almonds, traditionally coming from the Alicante region.
Keeping “Turron” in mind, a fun tradition unique to the Catalonia region is the “Caga Tio” or pooping log. To put it simply, it is a wooden log that has been dressed up with the addition of little wooden legs, a blanket and a hat. Children keep the “Caga Tio” in their homes or schools in the run-up to Christmas and feed it orange peel or small chunks of bread every evening. Then, when Christmas Eve finally arrives, they hit the log with a stick asking it to poop out the delicious dessert, Turron!
It’s not just food that is a big part of Christmas in Spain – the Spanish National Lottery is an extremely big deal with almost everyone playing it, making it the largest lottery draw in the world! It’s so big in fact that the tradition has been nicknamed “El Gordo” or The Fat One because of how much money you are able to win. The draw takes place on December 22nd and has been going on since 1812, with children singing out the winning numbers as they come.
A few days after Christmas on December 28th, “Dia De Los Santos Inocentes” takes place and is the Spanish version of April Fools Day. People play pranks on one another, telling fake stories and tales in hopes of getting one another to believe them. It is so big that even newspapers and TV stations have their go at fooling the nation!
There are a number of traditions that flow throughout Spain, some relative to different regions and some not. Either way, it is a fantastic place to be during the festive period! To best enjoy the festive period, start learning the language with our Intensive Spanish Course so you can truly live the experience. If you have any questions, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.