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A Trip to Spain: The Perfect Christmas Gift

November 28, 2016 Destination Europe No Comments Print Print Email Email

image002Christmas is all but upon us. A time for traditions, celebration, gifts and, above all, joy. Make the most of the Christmas holidays and come to Spain, where you will enjoy celebrations with deep-rooted tradition. At this time of the year, the streets of cities, towns and villages are decked with color, lights and Christmas decorations, creating a magical atmosphere. Amongst all the celebrations there are two special ones not to be missed: the New Year’s Eve fiesta and the Feast of the Three Kings.

On the night of New Year’s Eve, called “Nochevieja” in Spanish, everyone fulfils a special tradition: they eat twelve grapes, one by one, keeping time with the clock as it strikes midnight. This is how one sees in the New Year in Spain – an unusual, surprising tradition. What is more, if you manage to eat all the grapes in time, you are in for a year of prosperity and good luck. Be sure not to miss this moment.

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Gran Vía Lit Up With Christmas Lights

© INSTITUTO DE TURISMO DE ESPAÑA

Although the chiming of the bells is broadcasted on live television throughout Spain, the best thing is to head for the scene of the celebration and take active part in the event. In Spain, there is a place that has a special link with this tradition: the clock in Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid. Thousands of people congregate here to see in the year, mainly groups of friends and young people dressed up with hats, party blowers, horns, masks and jokes. Hotels, pubs, bars and clubs usually hold their own New Year’s Eve parties, where you can dance until dawn. Come and get carried away by this festive atmosphere.

Dates not to be missed

The first special date is 22 December with the draw for the Christmas Lottery – almost everyone in Spain takes part and prizes are celebrated in style out in the streets. The next big days are definitely the most family-oriented and are 24 and 25 DecemberChristmas Eve and Christmas Day. Normally, families get together for dinner and lunch on these two days, and prepare traditional dishes such as lamb and sea bream along with seasonal desserts such as turrón (rich sweet made with almonds – can be related with the Indian chikki but with varying flavours and ingredients), polvorones (crumbly shortbread) and marzipan. You can find these delicious menus at a large number of restaurants and hotels across Spain, and discover the country’s gastronomy in the best way possible. You may also be interested in attending MidnightMass on Christmas Eve (called as ¨Nochebuena¨ in Spain), very popular amongst Catholics to commemorate the birth of Jesus.

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Plaza Mayor of Madrid on Christmas Day

© INSTITUTO DE TURISMO DE ESPAÑA

The most entertaining day comes on 28 December with the Day of the Santos Inocentes, when people play pranks similar to those of April Fools’ Day. For this, the best thing is to buy novelty items at street markets such as the one at Plaza Mayor Square in Madrid. People say goodbye to the year with the New Year’s Eve celebrations on 31 December. On the night of New Year’s Eve, called “Nochevieja” in Spanish, everyone fulfils a special tradition of eating twelve grapes, one by one, keeping time with the clock as it strikes midnight. Be sure not to miss this moment as it is extremely special and unique to Spain.

To ensure smiles on the children’s faces at Christmas, nothing better than the Three Kings Parade held on 5 January, the day before the feast of the Three Kings. In Spain, it is the Three Wise Men of the East, Melchoir, Caspar and Balthazar, who bring Christmas presents to children who have been good. Three Kings Parades, with their page-boys, camels and all kinds of weird and wonderful characters, make their way through the streets of villages, towns and cities all over Spain, to then leave gifts and toys at the houses. They are all spectacular, but special mention should be made of the one in Alcoy, in the province of Alicante, one of the oldest in Spain.

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Star Sweet of Christmas – Turrón

© INSTITUTO DE TURISMO DE ESPAÑA

Plans for your Christmas holidays

As you can see, there are many important dates on the calendar. Furthermore, however, you will find something interesting to do on any day over Christmas. Here are a few options:-Visit one of the living cribs (Nativity scenes with real people) to be found in villages and towns around Spain. Shepherds, oxen, mules and the baby Jesus himself will greet you as if you had travelled back in time.

– Make the most of the opportunity to go shopping. Here are three reasons: there are many traditional street markets held in historic centers at this time of year; shops have extended opening times, with a host of ideas for the perfect gift; and from 1 January, the sales start.

– Go skiing at one of Spain’s resorts for a Real White Christmas.

– Do you prefer swimming at the beach? Then choose the Canary Islands to celebrate Christmas in style at its wonderful beaches.

– And last but not least, dance, play the “zambomba” (type of drum), sing traditional carols, watch children asking passers-by for the “aguinaldo” (coins or sweets in exchange for songs).

– In short, let yourself be carried away by Spain’s deep-rooted Christmas traditions.

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