What Spanish customs should travelers know?

Celebrating Christmas in Spain

Some people simply fall in love with a country and want to spend as much time there as possible. And others are simply looking for a place to get out in winter - and possibly flee from the obligations of the domestic Christmas season. Spain is of course ideal. Of course, Christmas is a big festival there too, but sometimes just a few kilometers are enough to experience something new. Who in North Rhine-Westphalia knows the custom of the "Christmas tree inspection"? And it is the same in Spain.
Big Christmas market in Madrid in the Plaza Mayor (Hackman / Depositphotos.com)

Worthwhile goals in the Christmas season

Spain is more than Barcelona, ​​Madrid and Mallorca. Especially Andalusia and the Canary Islands are beautiful regions for a Christmas vacation. The difference to Christmas at home is already described by the weather. When people in Germany wait hopefully for snowflakes to replace the rain, the sun often shines here at pleasant temperatures. Sun lovers get their money's worth around Christmas. And what is there to experience?

  • diversity - Spain loves Christmas and offers an incredible variety. It doesn't need to be advertised festivals to find dreamy nativity scenes, some with handcrafted dolls and palm fronds, some as a whole landscape. The Christmas landscapes can be found in almost all villages and cities in Spain.
  • handing out Christmas Presents - Vacationers are now spoiled for choice. Do you make your children happy and give them twice or do you follow the Spanish custom? Because this says that the gifts are given on the day of the three kings.
  • Church services - The church services during the Christmas season are also something special. For tourists who don't speak the language, they sound extraordinary anyway. That is the trump card, because if one cannot listen to what has been said, there is much more chance of absorbing the ambience.

Picking out really worthwhile travel destinations at Christmas time is difficult. The whole of Spain is worth a trip and offers so much variety that almost every traveler will find something for themselves.

Christmas on the beach? In Spain this is possible in many regions (rimdream / Depositphotos.com)

Spanish Christmas customs

From a German point of view, it sometimes sounds as if the Christian Christmas is the same everywhere. This assumption cannot be more wrong than claiming that the Christmas story features the chocolate Santa Claus and large trucks. And so it is enough to think outside the box in the direction of Spain to see that customs are created and not written down:

  • Christmas eve - this is the Noche Buena and an absolute family home evening. Usually turrón is served, a dish made from almonds, honey, sugar and eggs. After dinner we go to the »Urn of Fate« (Urna del Destino), which can be compared a little with our Secret Santa. The urn contains many small gifts, but also rivets. Everyone can move until they too have a present. Since many other European countries give out presents on the 24th or 25th, it has become more common in recent years for children to receive presents on Christmas Eve - and not on January 6th.
  • Misa del Gallo - in Spain the Christmas tree has only come into homes in the last few decades. But the Spaniards go to midnight mass, which is rather rare in this country. And the more rural the area, the more enjoyable the time after the fair is. Because fires are lit in the squares, songs are sung together and people celebrate.
  • El Gordo - This is not the name of the Christmas lottery, but only the term for the main prize, but El Gordo is an absolute tradition in Spain. The oldest lottery in Spain is drawn on the Saturday before Christmas and takes up much of the day. The program is huge and anyone who hopes to win on the screen has to stick with it. Because the main prize can always be drawn: at the very beginning, in the middle, at the end. By the way, El Gordo can also be played from Germany, which is always required by several players.
  • Epiphany - that is the actual day of giving presents in Spain and is still seen as this in many places.

But other traditions join in as well. December 28th is the "Day of the Innocent Children" (Día de los Santos Inocentes), a day of remembrance that can be compared to our April Fool's joke. The »Fiesta de la Coretta« takes place around the turn of the year. A decorated pine tree is carried through villages and blessed.

And those who celebrate New Year's Eve in Spain should be in the square in front of the town hall before midnight. Twelve lucky grapes are eaten each time the bell rings in the New Year.

What to watch out for on a Christmas trip

In addition to the usual planning for flights and hotels, travelers must of course also pay attention to differences on site on Christmas days:

  • Hotels - They are booked up very quickly, especially at the popular Spanish Christmas locations. Caution is also advised with regard to food. It is quite possible that the meal times differ.
  • Means of transport - Also in Spain there are special timetables on public holidays. Travelers without a rental car should check beforehand how to get to events - and back again. Taxis may also be available to a limited extent.
  • Ncheck - Especially in rural areas it is possible that individual celebrations are celebrated with traditional clothing. If you don't want to attract attention as a tourist, you should inquire in advance whether there are any special features to consider.

If you also want to experience a piece of Christmas tradition, you can of course easily buy a ticket for El Gordo. These are now also available in Germany and have long represented a small Christmas tradition in this country.

Conclusion: Christmas in Spain means experience

Christmas is different in Spain than in Germany. This is often shown by the tradition of midnight mass. While many people in this country feel obliged to do so, Spaniards like to go to mass - because afterwards they often celebrate until sunrise. Travelers just have to think about where to go to Spain on Christmas vacation. In general, the rural areas of Andalusia and the rest of Spain are more traditional and offer nice insights into these traditions. The big cities, on the other hand, are more open, so vacationers in Madrid and Barcelona have to look carefully to experience the Spanish Christmas culture.

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