Spain is a lovely country with dreamy landscapes and pristine weather. There is nothing more beautiful, like spending Christmas in Spain. This is partly because of the stunning traditions that span for hundreds of years. There is always ample food and drinks. However, the best memory is the experience with the people.
The celebration of Christmas in Spain begins, for most people, with Midnight Mass (La Misa Del Gallo). Christmas Eve is called Nochebuena. From the beginning of advent up until Nochebuena, children often visit neighbors and sing Christmas carols. They mostly do this with the hope of getting some money.
Truffle-stuffed turkey remains the traditional Christmas food for most Spanish families. Known as 'Pavo Trufado de Navidad,' most families eat this meal before going for church service on Christmas Eve. However, in recent times, the choice of food is changing. In the north-west region that is predominantly surrounded by water, the traditional Christmas meal is usually seafood.
When serving seafood, there is usually a rich diversity on the table. This includes lobsters, shellfish, mollusks, and edible crabs. During Christmas in Spain, feasting always ends with desserts. The most popular one is mazapan made from almonds, sugar, and eggs. There are also polvorones consisting of flour, butter, sugar.
Christmas in Spain usually spills into January. One of the most spectacular celebrations during this time is the Dia de los Reyes (Three King's Day). This is a celebration that marks the arrival of the three wise men in Bethlehem. It holds annually on January 5th. During this time, the street witness a colorful display of costumed participants. The 'wise men' rain handful of sweets on the spectators who gather to watch their glorious entry into the town.
Inasmuch as the sweets are meant for kids, you will find adults who turn their umbrellas to catch them. In major cities like Barcelona and Madrid, the King's parade attract thousands of people. The atmosphere is friendly and one of the great places to make new friends. By the evening of January 5th, children leave a pair of shoes outside their doors. The colorful kings fill them with gifts. January 6th is an important holiday where parents gather to watch the children unwrap their gift.
Surprisingly, unlike in other parts of the world where the main feasting is on Christmas Day, Spaniards think differently. Families still come together to eat meat with assorted drinks, but it is usually lighter than that of Christmas Eve. Afterward, children take to the streets to try their new bikes, roller skates, and remote controls.
December 28th is another special celebration that you can't afford to miss. It is the commemoration of the Day of the Innocent Saints (Dia de los santos inocentes). All over the world, the celebration marks the remembrance of the babies killed on the order of King Herod. However, in Spain, the festival is similar to April Fool's Day in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The rule is simple; try to tell silly stories or jokes in a way that makes them believable.
On New Year's Eve, one tradition that is still in practice is for people to eat 12 grapes. Each grape is for each stroke of the midnight clock. If you succeed in eating 12 grapes for each stroke, it signifies luck for the coming year. Make sure you leave with a piece of souvenir that will remind you of the lovely memories.