Every country has their own Christmas traditions, but Spain is quite unique! Here’s a rundown of how Christmas and New Year’s Eve are celebrated here:
On December 22, the fun starts with the “Sorteo de Loteria Nacional de Navidad”. It is a day of anticipation when everyone in Spain tunes into a local radio or television station to watch the selection of prizes for Spain’s National Christmas Lottery. For three hours, children from an old private school in Madrid call out the winning lottery numbers and prizes. Everyone in Spain buys at least one ticket in the hopes of a big payout. The grand prize is 300,000 euros, but there are many, many prizes of smaller denominations as well. Each ticket is quite expensive, priced at 2o euros. It contains 5 numbers and there are at least ten tickets sold with the same number. If your ticket has the same last number as the ticket of the grand prize, you get your money back (20 euro prize). I don’t usually gamble, but I split three tickets with a friend of mine and have my fingers crossed. Here’s a video of last year’s Sorteo:
December 23 is the day of health, because when asked if someone won the lottery they most often reply “No, but at least I have my health”.
December 24 is “Noche Bueno”, Christmas Eve. It usually includes a big dinner. December 25 is Christmas Day and usually spent with family. A very typical Christmas treat in Spain is Turron. It comes in many different forms but usually always contains almonds.
Most interesting is the tradition of New Year’s Eve. People typically gather in the main square of their town and await the toll of the clock. When the moment arrives, everyone pops a grape into their mouth at the sound of each gong. Eating twelve grapes in rapid succession is a celebration of the twelve past months and provides good luck for the coming year. In the southern-most pueblo (town) in the Alicante province where I live, there are grapes very late in maturing, and it is from this region that everyone has their grapes for New Year’s Eve.
This year, on January 6, Spain celebrates Epiphany (the coming of the three kings bearing gifts for Jesus Christ). It is on this day that all the children in Spain receive their Christmas gifts and spend the day playing with them. The next day, similar to Boxing Day, marks the official start of the sale season.
That’s all for now. Two posts in one day to make up for my 10-week absence!
A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my friends and family all over the world!