Christmas in Spain is very particular. We don’t do really strange things necessarily (like for example La Tomatina or San Fermines) but you should keep in mind what to do each day leading up to Christmas especially if it’s your first time spending Christmas in Spain.
24th of December
Just as the Christmas carol goes, Esta noche es Nochebuena y mañana Navidad! Hey! The most common thing is to go to a relative´s house or invite your close friends to your house, and have a dinner together. You have to dress appropriately, so leave the sweatpants at home just this once! We usually have dinner very late. The guests arrive around 20:30h or at 21h, but you probably won’t eat until 21:30h. The most typical menu includes seafood soup, ham, grilled prawns and cheese as an appetizer. The main course usually includes fish, lamb, suckling pig or roast beef. For the carnivores, there’s also roast duck as well as capón (chicken stuffed with raisins, plums, and other dried fruits). For dessert, guess! There are so many options: mazapan, polvorones, mantecados, etc. As for drinks, there will be plenty of wine and cider as well as cava to toast after dinner.
After the meal, there are those who decide to party, those who follow everything with a gin & tonic, and those who begin to sing Christmas carols, take out table games and simply have fun! Nothing is off limits!
25th of December
The most normal thing to do is wake up late, because logically the Christmas Eve dinners don’t end very early. We usually have a big breakfast! If you’re at home, you’ll probably head straight for the leftovers, but if you’re a guest at someone’s house, they will prepare something new. The menu will be similar, but still different to that of the night before: starters, fish, meat, duck, dessert.
You’re probably asking yourself even though it’s not very common in Spain, people still hang their stockings near a window or put up the Christmas tree. There is where you’ll find your presents on Christmas day!
30th of December
Why wait to celebrate New Year’s Eve on the 31st, when you can start on the 30th? Someone must have thought of this a few years ago, but since then there are as many people in Sol on the 30th as there are on the 31st! This is all because that’s when they used to do the rehearsal of the bells, and there weren’t many people. That’s all changed now! They’re so popular now! You don’t eat your 12 grapes or anything, but you can snack on pistachios, olives, M&M’s etc.
31st of December
There’s an expression in Spanish for when you take too much time doing something which is: “nos van a dar las uvas”. It comes from this special night when we eat 12 grapes! You usually eat a big meal, but hurry up because at 23:59h everything as to be ready to go: everyone with their 12 grapes, a bottle of cider or champagne, and the glasses! You can watch the countdown on television. If you’re
crazy brave, go to Sol and see the bells ring live with hundreds of people around you! Don’t forget to rock your wigs, and costumes and most importantly a heavy coat!
Tricks in order to eat the grapes like an authentic Spaniard: we’re not that crazy as to grab the largest grapes we can find! Yes, we peel them and take out the seeds. Don’t look at anyone else eating their grapes because you would die of laughter. Between each ringing of the bell, there’s a pause of a few seconds. Chew them well! No one wants to start the year off choking to death!
They say that if you eat 12 grapes you’ll have a full year of good luck, but the truth is that your good luck begins in that very moment seeing as how you didn’t choke! After the madness of midnight, it’s time to get dressed up and hit the streets! Many bars have special parties with open bar, and later hours. Be careful coming home because the metro opens at 7h. We recommend grabbing some churros and chocolate for breakfast!
An alternative to the party scene on New Year’s is to go to the theater! The show stops a few minutes early, and they hand out grapes. The actors and the audience take them together!
1st of January
The first of January is a chill day to spend at home after the excitement of the previous night. We get together with family again to eat, or we make a chill plan to watch movies, go to the cinema or for a walk…
5th of January
The 3 Kings are coming! One of the most beautiful Christmas traditions takes place on this night when everyone, kids and adults, goes out to watch the parade of the 3 Kings! Watch your head because they throw candy out to you on the streets! No two years are the same. It’s pure magic! When you get home you have to prepare the following:
- A tray of sweets for the 3 Kings and 3 glasses of cider
- A bucket of water for the camels
- Your clean shoes because that’s where they will leave your presents!
Go to sleep early!
6th of January
Happy 3 Kings Day! Jump out of bed, run towards your shoes because the Kings had left your shoes filled with your presents! They will surely come pay you a visit especially if you wrote them a letter before. They’re wizards, not fortune tellers, people! The only thing left to do is eat the typical Roscón de Reyes! Who will get the bean, and who will get the surprise!!
Unfortunately this the last day of our Christmas celebrations, but surely you’ve had a good time, no!?