With the year drawing to a close, the School’s getting ready for Christmas 2014 with the family and with the best wishes for all for the coming year. Christmas in Spain has its peculiarities that make it different from how this holiday is celebrated in other countries. Specifically, Christmas Eve dinner, uvas de la suerte on New Year’s Eve, and Reyes Magos are the three features defining Christmas in this country. But, what are these three traditions all about?
In other countries, it is usually the family gathering over lunch on Christmas Day, December 25th, what matters most. However, for Spaniards, the most important date nobody wants to miss is evening dinner on December 24th, when the whole family gets together to dine on exquisite delicacies. Family members working or studying away from home do all they can to come home for that evening, meaning railway stations and airports are busier than ever.
Dinner usually starts around nine-thirty and normally consists of meat (mainly lamb) and fish (hake, sea bream or turbot) dishes, always accompanied by Spanish wines and cava. For dessert, typical Spanish sweets like turrón, mantecados or polvorones. The evening of December 24th is also the time for the Speech by King Felipe VI, at 9 pm on all TV channels.
One week later is the time for the tradition of the 12 grapes. At midnight on December 31st, all Spaniards eat 12 green grapes, one to each of the 12 chimes of the Puerta del Sol tower clock in Madrid, which is broadcast on all Spanish TV channels, and followed by people not only at home, but also in hospitals, fire stations, airports, etc., where everyone has got their 12 grapes ready on a plate or in a bowl to eat them up at midnight on the last day of the year.
Finally, now a few days into the New Year, the young (and not so young) get their Christmas presents on January 6th. The evening before, the three Reyes Magos (Wise Men, Kings or Magi), called Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar, visit Spanish homes on their camels to leave presents for the boys and girls who have been good throughout the year. And for those who haven’t been quite so good…? They will be left coal. January 6th is the highlight of the Christmas holidays for children, since most Spanish families don’t get their presents from Santa Claus, so kids have to excitedly and nervously wait until the last day of Christmastide to receive their gifts. Once the holiday period is over, both young and old will get back to the daily grind with renewed energy to enjoy the new year 2015 to the full. See you all soon!