The year is drawing to a close and Christmas is nearly upon us. Here in Granada, the festive season really begins around the 5th-8th November when there is a ‘puente’ between the ‘día de la constitución’ and ‘día de la inmaculada concepción’, both very important celebrations in Spain and a time when everyone gets a day off. This is when shops start really getting into the Christmas Spirit, when lights start getting turned on and when giant Christmas treet start getting put up around the city.
The city of Granada gets crammed to the rafters with lights during the Christmas season. Lights are strung from one side of the street to another, a giant Christmas tree is erected in Plaza Bib-Rambla and Christmas markets start to open in Plaza Bib-Rambla and Puerta Real. As well as this, you will notice the nativity scenes that Spaniards call ‘Belenes’ appearing around the city. Here at Escuela Delengua we offer a tour of all the beautiful ‘Belenes’ that Granada has to offer as one of our activities (take a look at our activities page to see what´s on offer this week). This gives our students the chance to experience one of the authentic traditions that Spain has to offer.
Gordo de Navidad
After all the decorations have gone up, the 22nd of December is the day when it really begins to feel like Christmas in Spain. This is the day of the Christmas lottery, one of the biggest lottery draws in the world. Altogether several millions of euros are raffled in this national lottery that is a massive tradition throughout Spain. The complete draw is broadcast throughout the whole day making it a massive event that really signals the start of Christmas for Spaniards.
Christmas Eve is a very intimate affair in Spain with families coming together to eat a dinner usually consisting of plates of seafood or poultry (although of course each region has its own typical meals). The desserts are usually turrones (something every visitor to Spain should try at least once!) or marzipan. At midnight, it is a Catholic tradition to attend the Misa del Gallo , or midnight mass in English, when all the family will go and celebrate the birth of Christ together and bring in Christmas as a family. Christmas eve and Christmas day are slightly smaller affairs in Spain than in other countries in the world because Santa Claus is not a tradition in Spain and has only become known through English and American influences. Spanish childresn traditionally wait for gifts from the Three Wise Men on the night of the 5th of January.
Los Reyes Magos
Children in Spain send a letter to the Three Wise Men indicating the gifts they want for Christmas as well as the reasons for which they think they deserve the presents. Everyone will then go and watch the arrival of the Three Wise Men on the 5th January who arrive in a procession throwing sweets to the children. Here in Granada, very close to Escuela Delengua, there is a great procession through the city of the afternoon of the 5th of January. There are three men on horses representing the Three Wise Men, each one accompanied by an entourage of more than 90 people.
That night, Spanish children leave their shoes for the Three Wise Men to fill with gifts or, if they have misbehaved, a carbón dulce, a sweet that looks like coal. The next mornign the children awake to their presents and the adults also exchange presents. The 6th of January is a bank holiday throughout Spain, a day on which the family can be together and the children can play with their toys.
Now you know a little more about how we here at Escuela Delengua celebrate Christmas are you tempted to sutdy an intensive Spanish course here with us during Christmas time? Or fancy sharnig how you celebrate Christmas in our comments box? MERRY CHRISTMAS!