Feliz Navidad, that is Merry Christmas in Spanish. Christmas celebrations is Spain usually starts by December 22 and ends in January 6. Also in December 22, a Grand National lotto called El Gordo is or the fat one is held, and winnings could run in the millions.
The center of Spanish Christmas Tradition is the Belen or the Nativity Scene. Every town or villages has its own life size Belen, complete with all the Bible Characters like the Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the 3 Wise Men, shepherds and many farm animals.
Like in other countries, Christmas is Spain is celebrated by families and friends around the Christmas Eve Dinner or the Noche Buena. The Noche Buena is the most important meal of the year and Spanish greet each other by saying, “ Esta noche es Noche Buena, y no es de dormer”, or this night is the good night, and is not meant for sleeping.
Like in other countries in Europe, the Spanish Christmas Eve Dinner is composed of fish, cold cuts of meat and soup. Besugo is a traditional Spanish dish that is also a favorite during Noche Buena. For the main course, favorites are roasted suckling pig, lamb and turkey. For desserts, children are always on the look out for cakes, marzipan and polvorones. Cava, the Spanish equivalent of French champagne is also served throughout the Noche Buena.
Spaniards also go to the midnight Mass. The Spanish Midnight Mass is called the Misa del Gallo or the Rooster Mass, for the rooster is the first to announce the birth of Christ.
After the Mass and Noche Buena, people exchanged Christmas gifts. Children will also be given Christmas gifts coming from Papa Noel. They will also receive more Christmas gifts from the 3 Kings on January 5.
In Catalonia, there is a Christmas Tradition named El Tio, where after singing Catalan Christmas Songs, children were given sticks and allowed to beat up the Christmas Log filled with candies and other sweet treats.
December 28 is the Day of the Innocents. Though the origin of this fiesta is to pay homage to the deaths of children during the time of Herod, it has evolved into a happy celebration as years went by.This is the Spanish version of April Fool’s Day in America.
New Year or Noche Vieja in Spanish, is celebrated like in all other New year’s celebration around the world. What’s unique to Spain is the Las Doce Uvas or 12 grapes. Everyone is expected to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of the New Year for good luck.
Children in Spain will have more Christmas gifts come January 5 and 6. It is the time of the Los Reyes Magos, or the 3 Wise Men. In Spain, children believe that the 3 Wise Men are the ones who bring them Christmas gifts and not Santa Claus.
Rosca de los Reyes is a home baked bread served only in this occasion. One of these breads contains a hidden treat, and anybody who finds it in his bread will be treated as a king for a day.
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