Christmas season comes with joy, happiness, peace and merry-making. A festival to mark the birth of Jesus, it is celebrated in various traditional ways across the globe. The festival is a great religious holiday in Spain, celebrated with much fanfare and enthusiasm. 'Hogueras' (bonfires) is an unusual Christmas tradition followed in Spain. It marks the observance of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and the beginning of the winter season. Other common traditions include "Nacimiento" (nativity scenes), decorating Christmas trees and going to Christmas markets. Read on to know about various other Spanish Christmas traditions and celebrations.
Christmas Celebrations In Spain
Fruits, flowers, marzipan and other sweets, candles, decorations and handmade gifts are the highlights of the Spanish markets, around Christmas. Tiny oil lamps are lit, warming the windows once the Christmas Eve stars are visible in the sky. In places like Granada and Jaen, people jump over fires to protect themselves against illness. Jota, a special Christmas dance being performed for more than a hundred years now, is another important ritual. Guitars and castanets can also be seen being played on the day.
The Spaniards honor the cow on Christmas, since it is believed that a cow breathed on baby Jesus to keep him warm, when Mary gave birth to him. The Christmas season in Spain officially begins on December 8, to mark the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Virgin Mary is Spain's chief patron and here, the Christmas is known as Navidad. Christmas Eve is termed as 'Nochebuena' or 'The Good Night'. The Spanish Midnight Mass is called 'La Misa Del Gallo' (The mass of the Rooster).
In Spain also, a lavish meal is arranged on the Christmas Even. The Christmas dinner includes delicacies like Pavo Trufado de Navidad (Christmas turkey with truffles/ mushrooms), cold shellfish, cold cuts of meat, bakes besugo (Bream) with potatoes, roast lamb and suckling pig. The entire meal is complemented with Spain's excellent sparkling wine, Cava. Desserts include turron (nougat made from toasted sweet almonds) and marzipan.
For Spanish people, Christmas is a time for friends and families to reunite and rejoice together. Since different languages are spoken in Spain, Merry Christmas is greeted as 'Feliz Navidad' in Spanish, 'Bon Nadal' in Catalan and 'Bo Nadal' in Galician. One of the main attractions of Christmas in Spain comprises of the 'El Gordo' (the Fat One), a state-run lottery, which is the largest one of its kind and famous worldwide.