[Spanish culture] Christmas in Spain-How spaniards celebrate christmas

¡Feliz Navidad!
You thought Christmas has passed? Not here in Spain~
Christmas in Spain starts from 24.12 till 06.01, so they are still in the Christmas timezone before the 3 kings’ arrival. And be sure that you know how to call Santa Claus correctly in Spain, he is called Papá Noel.
(📌I spent this Christmas in Valencia with my Spanish friend and her family, keep in mind that Christmas in different parts of Spain might be celebrated differently.)


Important dates for celebrating Christmas in Spain

Dec. 24 Nochebuena (Christmas eve)
Dec. 25 Navidad (Christmas)
Dec.  28 Dí­a de los Inocentes (Holy Innocents Day)
Dec. 31  Nochevieja (New years eve)
Jan. 06 Día de Reyes (Three Kings Day)

You might be interested:
No Santa in Austria? Austria’s Christmas custom.

Dec. 24 Nochebuena & Dec. 25 Navidad

Reunion Dinner~Reunion Lunch~no gifts

Like many other countries, Christmas is for the family to reunite, you have a reunion dinner on Christmas eve and a reunion lunch on Christmas. In Spain, a typical Christmas dinner is with lots and lots of seafood, especially shrimp.

spain christmas food turron

Typical Christmas dessert in Spain: Turrón!
And, if you are following the Spanish tradition, you don’t receive gifts on this day but on Jan 06.

Dec. 28 Dí­a de los Inocentes

Instead of April fools, this day is Spaniards December fools“. Pull a prank! 

central market valencia in christmas
Central market in Valencia

December 28th is the Spanish version of April Fools. After the person reveals their prank they will yell  “¡Inocente!”
Although it sounds funny to me that people prank each other on this “holy innocent day”, in fact, this day came from a sad story.

After Jesus was born, King Herod executed many innocent male infants in an attempt to kill baby Jesus, but Jesus was already safely transferred to Egypt beforehand so King Herod was the one fooled.

Now, you might have your whole family back in town, are you ready for the prank?

Dec. 31 Nochevieja Spanish New year

How to celebrate New years eve in Spain: 12 lucky grapes tradition

Finally, it’s New Year’s eve!!!
I was surprised to find that New years eve in Spain is still a family reunion kind of thing, but after swallowing your 12 lucky grapes at midnight, you get to meet your friends and party!

I still remember it was 8 or 9 years ago when I first heard a teacher sharing her experience of the “12 grapes in new Year eve”. My reaction was: “ wow~ cool” I never pictured myself to be here so many years later to be exactly experiencing!

西班牙 跨年
So what exactly is the 12 grapes tradition?

When the clock shows 12 at midnight with 12 strikes following, you eat one grape at a time for each stroke. Those 12 grapes represent good luck for the next 12 months.

If you are as curious as me, why grapes?  I did some research:
This tradition started in Madrid when the mayor imposed taxes for those who are going to party on 05 of January (the night before Three Kings Day), which also meant only the richer ones are able to celebrate on 05.01.

As an act of mocking those upper class who celebrates New Year by drinking champagne and eating grapes, the working class gathered and ate grapes at 12 midnight. This act spread further and further which merchants found their commercial opportunity and start selling “lucky grapes”.

Jan. 06 Día de Reyes

Collect your gift and eat the king’s cake

kings cake christmas in spain

On this day, you visit all of your relatives to collect your gifts and eat “Rosca de Reyes” (King’s cake). This is not just a normal dessert, but with a surprise inside.

You eat the bread with the whole family and the person who found a bean in your slice, bad luck for you, you have to buy the king’s bread for next year; and the one with a king figure in your bread, you are the king of the day and you will have good luck for the rest of the year.

spain christmas

Origin: The three wise men (three kings) followed a star and traveled for 12 days to bring gifts to baby Jesus, 6 of January is the day they arrived. In many cities, they will have parades representing this scene, don’t miss out!

Phew~that was a long Christmas.

You might also be interested:
Austria’s Christmas custom (which is a total different story!)
Christmas in Salzburg (my fav xmas market)
Christmas in Vienna (Which I brought 6 Christmas mugs back with me)

Extra: Papanoelada solidaria motera Valencia

papa noel valencia


One evening in December I was sitting with my friend in the living room and heard something roaring loudly outside, it was so piercing that the first thing that popped in my head was: “did a plane crash or something?”

My friend who’s a local excitedly opened the window and I saw numerous motorbikers with Papa Noel’s outfit passed by. Instead of a motorcycle flash mob which I thought it was, it was an event organized by Cremantgoma motorcycle club annually to bring Christmas gifts to Charity. If you get to be in Valencia in December, you will not want to miss this meaningful and spectacular sight.

Hope you will enjoy your time as much as I did 😉

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