Although things will look a little different this year, Spanish Christmas and New Year traditions will still play a part in the holiday celebrations. If you are in Spain over the holidays you may be wondering what’s typical during the festive season. Here are some funny and timeless holiday traditions in Spain…
A typical sweet treat over the holidays are churros with hot chocolate! You can find many stands in the streets selling this treat throughout the holiday season to shoppers and passers by to keep them warm and happy. This snack is also known as porras and the difference between churro and porra is the size and the shape. A churro is smaller and has a bow-shape while a porra is more like a longer stick shape. They are made of flour and water which is then fried to create the delicious crispy texture. A must-try if you’re in Spain over the holidays!
Maybe this date doesn’t seem special to you but in Spain it is known as the Día de los Santos Inocentes. Although it is very close to Xmas it actually has nothing to do with it. This day is most similar to what we know as April Fools day. It’s a day of practical jokes between family and friends and even the Spanish press publish fake news on this day known as the inocentada. It’s a fun and light-hearted day for you to get involved in over the holidays!
Spanish culture can be quite superstitious and one of these funny superstitions is related to New Years Eve. To bring good luck for the year ahead it is said that you must wear red underwear on New Years Eve. But why red? Red is a color that’s synonymous with life and so the Spanish consider it to be a color that will attract luck. A peculiar tradition in Spain for New Years but one to try if you need some good fortune!
As you know, the Spanish like things that bring good luck and that’s why this next New Year’s tradition in Spain also exists. Uvas are grapes and it is a tradition to eat one grape on each chime of the clock at midnight. They are known as the 12 uvas de la suerte or lucky grapes. 12 grapes at the turn of the New Year followed by a toast with champagne, cava or cider is a very lucky start to the year for Spaniards.
This tradition dates back to 1896 and was something done by wealthy families. In 1909 a huge surplus of grapes were harvested happened and this started a big campaign promoting the lucky grapes on New Year’s Eve. So if you want to turn your luck in 2021 and grant a prosperous year ahead, get your grapes at the ready!
Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve is not the only special visit for children during Christmas in Spain. Traditionally, children in Spain also receive gifts from the Reyes Magos (Magic Kings or Three Wise Men in English). This still applies today so children in Spain are quite fortunate to get presents on the Dec 25th and Jan 6th too. Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar are their names and they are said to visit Spanish homes on the night of Jan 5th to Jan 6th.
A big tradition on the day of the Reyes Magos in Spain is to eat a Roscón de Reyes, a ring-shaped cake stuffed with cream, chocolate or jam. Inside there are two small surprises. A small figure and a dry bean. The person who’s piece of the cake contains the small figure is crowned King or Queen and the person who finds the bean has to pay for the Roscón next year. You can find these typical cakes in all grocery stores and cafeterías in Spain at this time of year. It’s a fun and delicious tradition shared by family and friends.
More on Spanish traditions, public holidays and funny superstitions in our ICV Blog.