Christmas in Spain is unlike Christmas in the United States. The Christmas season runs much longer. While in the United States it ends on Christmas Day, in Spain it continues to January 6th, Three Kings Day. There are many activities that go on during this time including, Christmas Eve (called Nochebuena), Christmas Day, New Years Eve (called Nochevieja) and the anticipation of the arrival of the Three Kings on January 6th. Also during this time is a very important lottery called "El Gordo" along with many other activities.
Because Spain has a strong religious history, Christmas is a more holy day than in the United States. Some gifts may be given, but mostly it is a time to spend with family. While Santa Claus is known in Spain, he is not as important. In fact in some places children are told that if they are bad Santa Claus will come and take them away.
The day that gifts are given is on Three Kings Day (el día de Reyes). This is keeping with the religious tradition that this was the day that the Three Kings (Los Tres Reyes Magos) arrived bearing gifts. Please read the sections below to learn more about Christmas in Spain.
A Visit From St. Nick (twas the night before Christmas) - This is a combination Spanish and English (Spanglish) version of this famous poem. Read it and learn some Spanish words. - A Visit From St. Nick
Nativity Scenes- Un belén is a nativity scene. They are are also called a nacimiento. Nativity scenes are very popular in Spain. Un belén
Christmas Vocabulary - There is a lot of vocabulary associated with the Christmas season. Click here to learn some words and phrases. - Christmas Terms
Hogueras (A Unique Spanish Tradition) - This is one tradition that takes place on December 21st that you will not see anywhere else in the world. - Hogueras
Turron - It would not be Christmas without it - Turron is a nougat candy that comes in many different varieties. Everyone eats it during Christmas. - Turron
Villancicos - Christmas carols (called villancicos) are very popular in Spain. One of these is a Catalan villancico titled 'Fum, Fum, Fum'. Read the words (in Spanish and English) and listen to the carol. - Fum, Fum, Fum
El Gordo - It is the world's richest lottery and all of Spain stands still on December 22nd as the winning numbers are sung on national television. El Gordo
Nochebuena (The Good Night) - Christmas Eve is very important in Spain. - Nochebuena
April Fools - In December! - In Spain their version of April Fools Day is celebrated on December 28th - April Fools!
Eat 12 Grapes and Have A Good Year - On New Year's Eve (Nochevieja) in Spain everyone tries to eat 12 Grapes - Eat 12 Grapes
No Santa!!! Then who brings the gifts? - For good little girls and boys in Spain, it is not Santa Claus who brings them gifts, but the Three Kings (Los Tres Reyes Magos). And they don't deliver them on Christmas, but rather on Three Kings Days (January 6th). Read more about The Three Kings and find out which one is the most popular. - The Three Kings
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