How Are the Holidays Celebrated in Spain?
Have you ever wondered about the holidays in Spain? Or in any country for that matter? It is incredible to experience holidays in other parts of the world. But if you don't have the budget to travel this year, perhaps we can bring some international flair to you. Spain, being a very Christian country, has some deep rooted Spanish holiday traditions. Some are similar to how we celebrate Christmas in the United States and some are not.
Spanish Holiday Traditions and Customs
Like many European countries Christmas was just a later tradition that was hooked onto the pagan celebration of the winter solstice. This holiday was celebrated way before the Christmas holiday came to be and was considered the beginning of the winter. Today still in Spain and other Spanish speaking countries there is the celebration of Hogueras. This celebration, which takes place around Christmas and for most is the starting point of the holiday season entails people jumping over bonfires with the belief being that this will protect them from illness over the long winter.
Moving closer to Christmas day as you walk through Spanish towns you will see the many Christmas fairs and street bazaars selling all Christmas crafts, Christmas foods and those last minute holiday presents. The streets will have the traditional Christmas trees all decorated both on the streets and in personal houses. Additionally holiday decorations will include many Nacimiento's. These are very fancy and well planned nativity scenes that are displayed throughout all towns.
When Christmas Eve night rolls in you will slowly notice all the houses turning on oil lamps to light the way to Christmas day. No food is eaten on the Eve, instead everyone prepares to attend Christmas Midnight mass followed by massive Christmas day celebrations which include households all participating in Jota, a Christmas dance that is often accompanied with lively guitar playing and castanets. Christmas feasts include the traditional turkey and truffles and a typical desert would be caramel custard. Or perhaps you will munch on Spanish Turron (which is a Christmas hard candy), a very old Spanish holiday tradition.
Unlike other countries who use Santa Claus as the gift bringer, in Spain the emphasis is on the Three Wise Men and gifts are delivered on Epiphany instead of Christmas day. Holiday celebrations continue through Christmas and New Years and the gift giving takes place the week after New Years. Similar to other European countries, children put their shoes outside the door and the Three Wise Men leave presents for them.
Spain is a very Christian country so knowing that the majority of the celebration is rooted in Christian holiday traditions should not be a surprise. The complete Spanish religious dedication to Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve prayers is very important to the people of Spain. Many Hispanic holiday traditions celebrated in other parts of the world get their roots from what has been celebrated in Spain for years.
All in all there are many cultural traditions and customs that are celebrated at Christmas but the basics of Christmas traditions, holiday feasts and Christmas gift giving are pretty similar to the United States in their overall meaning. The days and methods are a bit different but the emphasis is the same. Christmas is a day for family, Christian values and lots of food and fun.