A Spanish Christmas

By | Category: Travel destinations
the nativity in Madrid

the nativity being celebrated in Madrid

At this time of year the Spanish streets of their cities, towns and villages are decked with colour, lights and Christmas decorations. Amongst all the celebrations there are two special ones not to be missed: the New Year’s Eve fiesta and the Feast of the Three Kings.

On the night of New Year’s Eve, called “Nochevieja” in Spanish, everyone fulfils a special tradition: they eat twelve grapes, one by one, keeping time with the clock as it strikes midnight. If you manage to eat all the grapes in time, you are in for a year of prosperity and good luck.

Although the chiming of the bells is broadcast on live television throughout Spain, the best thing is to head for the scene of the celebration and take active part in the event. In Spain there is a place that has a special link with this tradition: the clock in Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid. Thousands of people congregate here to see in the year, mainly groups of friends and young people dressed up with hats, party blowers, horns, masks and jokes. Hotels, pubs, bars and clubs usually hold their own New Year’s Eve parties, where you can dance until dawn.

Just six days later comes the 6th of January when Spanish children get their presents from the Three Wise Men. In Spain it is Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar who bring Christmas presents to children who have been good during the year. After writing a letter, in which they tell the Kings which presents they would like, the long-awaited day finally arrives for the children. The Wise Men parade through the streets of cities, towns and villages all over Spain in traditional cavalcades. Their camels loaded with presents, they go through the streets handing out sweets. Of all these parades, the one in Alcoi, Alicante, is particularly outstanding – it is Spain’s oldest. When night falls, children go to bed early to wait for Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar to come in through the window and leave presents in their shoes.

And amongst the presents may well be traditional sweets. There is a huge variety available, although the star product is definitely turrón. Another of the most traditional Christmas sweets in Spain is marzipan, which is made with almonds and sugar and can usually be found in the form of “little shapes”.

The problem for parents is that if your are holidaying in Spain over Christmas and the new year, your children might be expecting two sets of presents!

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