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A Spanish Christmas

As the summer holidays come to an end, it is back to school and time to get ready for Christmas in the UK. Alongside the children’s uniforms you will start to see cards and decorations and gifts in the supermarkets and the local shops.

However, Spain doesn't seem to start to prepare for Christmas until  the month of December. The lights and decorations won't be seen until the start of December and slowly Christmas markets appear. Christmas in Spain is not as commercialised as it is in the UK.

As Spain is largely a Roman Catholic country the festivities hold important religious meanings.  On December 8th, Immaculada: the “Feast of the Immaculate Conception”, signifies the start of the religious celebrations. The holiday season truly starts on December 22nd when most of Spain awaits the results of "El Gordo", a huge lottery draw where thousands of prizes are distributed to winners from across the country.

Christmas Eve is a huge family day in Spain and is known as "Nochebuena". A sumptuous meal will be prepared for what is the biggest feast of the year and the most important family gathering. Fish and shellfish for starters, followed by a roast lamb or a suckling pig and desert is the traditional marzipan or Turrón (an almond based sweet very popular in Spain). Cava is the drink of choice at this time of year for many Spanish families.

 It is also customary for adults to exchange their presents on "Nochebuena”. The children may also receive a small gift on Christmas Eve. After dinner the majority of people go to midnight mass, known in Spain as "La Misa de gallo" (the Mass of the Rooster).

Every town, church and, very often, home will have a "Belen" (a nativity scene) at this time of year, and some are extremely large and impressive. Sometimes they will be set up in a town square with real actors to form a life-sized nativity. These scenes form an important part of the Christmas celebrations to Spaniards and are a must see for anyone spending time in Spain during this time.

Christmas Day is one of the quietest days of the year in Spain. It is a public holiday and all shops, banks etc will be shut for the day, more and more families now observe the tradition of going out to a restaurant for a meal. Unlike the Uk and many other countries, Spanish children do not receive their gifts on Christmas day, they wait until January 6th, Epiphany, when the three kings brought their gifts to Christ.

The three Kings, in particular, Balthasar, leaves the children their presents and not Father Christmas or Santa. Traditional cakes called "Rosca de Reyes" are eaten on this day. Similar to the old tradition of putting coins in Christmas pudding in the UK, these cakes are baked with plastic charms in them and are said to foretell a lucky year for those who find them.

Christmas is a time for family. The Spanish remember the true meaning of Christmas and celebrate the festival in a traditional way. If you are lucky enough to be spending the Christmas period in Spain, try to make sure that you experience the celebrations and the festivities.


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10 secrets every spanish property buyer should know
10 Secrets Every Spanish Property Buyer Should Know
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