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How do you say Merry Christmas in Spain?

Before we get into the specifics of the most wonderful Spanish Christmas traditions, the majority of which take place between December 24th and January 6th, you should know what Christmas is called in Spain. Christmas, or

"Navidad" in Spanish, truly brings Spain to life.

However, different regions in Spain, each with their own language, have their own way of wishing a Merry Christmas, or "Feliz Navidad"; in Catalonia, it's 'Bon Nadal,' in Galicia,

'Bo Nadal,' and in the Basque Country, it's 'Eguberri on.'

There is no Santa Claus in Spain

Traditionally, there was no Santa Claus in Spain, and Spaniards have, in the past, never elebrated

Father Christmas visiting their town in December, though this is changing. Instead, the Reyes Magos, or Three Wise Men, usually deliver gifts to children on January 6th. This means that Spanish children typically have to wait a full twelve days longer than most of us to receive their gifts, but, as I mentioned, this is changing and many children now receive gifts on both Christmas Day and the Feast of the Epiphany

on January 6th.

Furthermore, every year on the evening of January 5th, the Reyes Magos parade through the streets of every town, village, and city in Spain, riding parade floats and throwing sweets and candy to the children.

This parade, known as the 'cabalgata,' is a must-see

Spanish Christmas tradition.

The "fat" Christmas lottery (El Gordo de Navidad)

Almost every Spaniard plays the lottery at Christmas, often purchasing a tenth of a ticket and selecting the same numbers as their friends or coworkers. This special Christmas lottery is known as 'El Gordo,'

or 'the fat one,' and the numbers are usually announced on live TV throughout the entire morning

of December 22nd. Local schoolchildren from the San Ildefonso School "sing" the winning numbers and jackpot totals!

Spaniards eat grapes to celebrate New Year

December has arrived, the clock is ticking down to the New Year, and every household in Spain will be holding a handful of 12 grapes to bid farewell to the "old year" and welcome the new one.

And, before exclaiming "Happy New Year!" and kissing each other, Spaniards are frantically attempting to eat twelve grapes before the twelve chimes of midnight sound. If you don't finish them all, they say you'll have bad luck the next year. You may not be superstitious, but you should eat all those New Year's

resolutions for a prosperous New Year... just in case!

Christmas food in Spain

We all know that Spain has

fantastic food, and they have some wonderful festive specialties at Christmas.

Traditionally Spanish Christmas main Christmas

meal is usually on December 24th, Christmas Eve (Nochebuena), with the obligatory Serrano

ham, seafood and fish, particularly king prawns.

For dessert, there's almond sweet "turrón", which tastes like nougat, "mantecados and polvorones", which are shortbread cookies, and the Roscón de Reyes, a donut shapped cake with candied fruits on top, filled with whipped cream, custard or chocolate, and a bean and a

little figurine baked inside. This is traditionally

eaten on January 6th, and if you get the slice with the little toy, you get to wear a crown; however, if your slice contains a bean, you will have to pay for next year's roscón.

Portal de Belén (Bethlehem Nativity)

The portal de Belén is a traditional Christmas decoration in Spain with many shops, local municipalities, and homes setting one up.

But what exactly is a Portal de Belén?

Since Spain is traditionally a Catholic country, many believers choose to remember the original meaning of Christmas by displaying these scenes of Bethlehem,

scenes that use small models and figures to represent the Nativity Scene of Jesus' birth. It can be as simple as Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in his manger, but many people, however, go all out with huge and elaborate structures depicting the desert, the town, the Three Wise Men, shepherds, and, in some cases, the tiny figurine of a man pooping on the floor.


While Spain is traditionally a sun and beach destination, Spain at Christmas is also well worth a visit. Christmas is almost here and in Spain you can enjoy some of the most beautiful Christmas traditions in the world. These include impressive Christmas lights, music, live nativity scenes and wonderful food, and a magical holiday spirit. So, where are the best places in Spain to spend Christmas? Join us as we show you 10 of the best places to celebrate Christmas in Spain.


Madrid is a classic Christmas destination

and Spain's capital is undoubtedly one of

the best places in Spain to spend Christmas.

The giant light tree in Madrid's main square

Puerta del Sol, the Christmas Market in the

Plaza Mayor and traditional chocolate con

churros at San Ginés are a must see and taste

during this season in the country’s capital.

Madrid is traditionally very busy at Christmas

and fills up with tourists, but the Christmas spirit

will help you navigate the crowds to enjoy a ride

in the Naviluz bus (which takes you across the

city to see all the lights), the Cortilandia show at the El Corte Inglés department store, and of course some Christmas shopping on Madrid's famous Gran Vía street.

Sierra Nevada, Granada

Yes, it does snow in Spain, believe it or not, and there are manyl ski resorts to be enjoyed by all the family, like Sierra Nevada in Granada. During the Christmas season, winter sports fans can enjoy the night track, El Río, and approximately 2,2 miles of snowy tracks, perfect for the most adventurous.

Apart from winter sports, you can also enjoy concerts, workshops for children, scavenger hunts in the snow, and even a Reyes Magos (Wise Men) Parade with fireworks.


This city has earned an international reputation thanks to the spectacular set of lights installed on Calle Larios. A massive arch structure that encapsulates the main commercial street of the city is an incredible sight and attracts thousands of tourists every year.

If you are stopping by Málaga this Christmas, make sure to also check out the city’s live concerts,

Christmas markets and other celebrations by the sea to enjoy Christmas on the Costa del Sol.


If you plan to visit Catalonia at Christmas, you're

sure to come across some of Spain's most unusual

Christmas traditions.

Barcelona has its own Christmas character: “el caganer”, a curious figurine of a man that proudly shows off its bottom to the world while pooping in the street.

Another special feature in the city’s celebrations is

Barcelona´s own very special way to light up the streets, with decorations that even shine during the day since they are made from colourful crystals.

When it comes to Christmas markets and activities in Barcelona, you can take your pick from the many venues that exist across town. We also recommend you go and watch the main parade on the 6th of January, filled with floats, thousands of actors, dancers and giant balloons. All of this makes Barcelona one of the best places to visit in Spain during Christmas.

Vigo, Pontevedra (Galicia)

One of the best cities in Spain for Christmas is Vigo, a city in the Northern Spanish region of Galicia.

During the festive season, the city is decorated with 10 million lights. It might seem massive for a holiday decoration, but, according to the mayor of Vigo, their goal is to have a light display that can be seen from the Space Station.

Vigo’s lights are well worth a visit and every year the city promises to do something new and even more over the top. This even includes snow machines strategically placed at the Christmas Market, that create a nearly perfect snowy environment throughout the festive period.

Aside from this, there is also a giant snowman, an ice ramp, an ice-skating rink and a Ferris wheel that are sure to be very popular attractions for all the family.

Estepa, Seville

This town is fully dedicated to Christmas, and especially to Christmas’ sweet treats.This is the source of mantecados, polvorones and marzipan, the traditional Spanish Christmas treats you can find across the country during the festive season.

Estepa is traditionally the first in Europe to switch on its lights, 52 days before Christmas’ Day.

Make sure to drop by the La Estepeña factory to visit its “Ciudad del Chocolate” that, every year, replicates

famous Madrid monuments out of chocolate. And you can also visit the Museo del Mantecado, if you want to learn more about the mantecado and its production.

Arcos de la Frontera, Cádiz

If you are a religious person and a fan of Christmas’ imagery, Arcos de la Frontera is the perfect place for you.

The city organises a live unparalleled reenactment of the nativity scene. Since 1983, the reenactment keeps getting better and better and now includes donkeys, sheep, horses, open fires and more than 500 actors perfectly characterised with costumes, accessories, tools and more.

Witness this amazing nativity with your own eyes. I guarantee it won´t disappoint you.

Rute, Córdoba

Another city dedicated to the sweeter side of Christmas. The star of the show is an impressive Chocolate Nativity Scene, a tradition for more than 20 years. With an area of over 600 square feet and made of more than 3,000lbs of chocolate, sugar and marzipan, we assure you, you have never seen anything like this.

To calm down the urge to bite into the chocolate figures, this is also the perfect place to enjoy some traditional Spanish Christmas food. Make sure to visit the Museo del Anís, dedicated to Rute’s traditional liqueur and enjoy a mantecado amongst the thousands of tourists that also visit the city.

Jijona, Alicante

In Spain, Christmas rhymes with Turrón. The sweet taste of almonds and honey has been coating the mouths of many for more than 500 years.

Each year, in Jijona, you can enjoy it at the iconic

Christmas Fair, dedicated to turrón, marzipan and other delicious Christmas’ foods.

A recommendation from the artisans themselves: go with an empty stomach because there will be plenty of treats to enjoy.