The season of Christmas is upon us. We all have our traditions of spending this time with family and relatives. The Costa Blanca is home to many different nationalities, and many of them read our regular blogs. That’s why TheCostaBlancaGuide decided to write a few lines about the different traditions in the countries where most of our readers come from. This time we like to tell more about Spanish and English Christmas Traditions, as we already explained the Dutch and Norwegian in our last Blog. And off course, we wish all of our readers a very merry Christmas and hope you spend this time with your loved ones close to you.
Christmas time in Spain
Like many families in Holland and Norway, Spanish families also love to put a Christmas tree in their house and adorn it to their likings. On top of you can also see a Belen in many Spanish homes. A Belen is a small Christmas stall that shows the birth of Jesus. Some have just the stall on display, other people go a little more over the top and build complete miniature villages with houses, stalls, animals, roads and lots more.
Christmas eve, December 24th
Many families come together and reunite during this time of year. Even the family members who moved out years before go back to their hometown spend time with their loved ones. They have a delicious meal on Christmas Eve, mostly with products they do not eat regularly, like turkey and seafood. After dinner, the family members hand out gifts and talk about their experiences of the last year. People who are religious visit the Christmas Mass that starts at 00.00 hrs to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Christmas Day, December 25th
On the day of Christmas, the families keep uniting and eat together, lots of the same as the night before and on top of that, they enjoy typical Christmas treats like Turron and Chocolate. Turron is a tablet that resembles Nougat and that comes in many varieties and tastes.
New Year’s Eve, December 31st
The last night of the year there is more family gatherings and more food to say goodbye to the year. Everybody gets in the festive mood the closer the clock gets to 12. Just before midnight, everybody gathers around the tv to count down to the big moment. In Spain, they call this moment the Campanadas and at exactly Midnight the Bells will ring twelve times. It is common to eat one grape at each bell ring. This together with wearing red underwear and a ring in your glass of champagne will bring you a prosperous new year according to Spanish tradition. From experience we know it is hard to eat the twelve grapes. We advise you to buy the seedless grapes if you think about trying it. After the new year is welcomed many go out into town to have some drinks and celebrate with friends. On the first day of the new year, there is more food and gatherings with family members. The ones not present are those that went celebrating the night before.
The last day of Christmas time in Spain is the day of Three Kings, the 6th of January. According to tradition, there are gifts for all the children that behaved well the last year.
Christmas time in England
Just like in many other countries it is a tradition for families to gather at Christmas time and spend the last days of the year together. And just like in the other countries we already talked about, they also put up Christmas trees in England. Besides the Christmas tree, many people also decorate their house with Mistletoe, said to bring good luck. On top of that many villages have their streets lit with rows and rows of Christmas lights. Before Christmas, the children hang their stockings and socks at the chimney or their beds, with a letter to Santa Claus which gifts they want.
Christmas Day, December 25th
After waking up the children gather around the Christmas tree to open the present that Santa Claus has left them under the tree. After that, the family starts gathering to sit down and have lunch or an early afternoon meal. This meal typically is Turkey with roast vegetables and other extras like carrots and peas, stuffings and sometimes bread or cranberry sauce. A very English tradition is the Christmas Pudding that originates back in medieval times. And like the Dutch, English people secretly hope that it snows on Christmas for this bit of extra atmosphere.
Boxing Day, December 26th
Although this day started many centuries ago as a religious day at present it is just another public holiday. Many shops start their big sales and because most people do not work this day, there are large sporting events like important football matches and horseraces.
New Year’s Eve, December 31
Because this day is not a public holiday most people work during the day and start getting together after work in their homes or go out to celebrate at parties with friends. Just before midnight, it is custom to hold hands with the people next to you and sing “Auld lang Syne”. Then everybody counts down and kisses to welcome the new year at midnight, with fireworks and champagne. After the celebrations, the first of January is a national holiday and even public transport has restricted service. Therefore many people stay at home to relax and rest with their family.
Now that we have explained the Spanish and English Christmas Traditions as well, we hope we have not given anyone the feeling of being left out. If so, let us know and we might be able to dedicate some words to other Christmas Traditions before Christmas arrives.
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