Posts Tagged ‘culture’

christmas lights are starting to appear in shops and city centres all across the country, the temperatures are dropping, and the talks about the christmas national lottery are already in full swing. this can only mean that the winter and the holidays are coming, and with them all the wonderful  and magical traditions cherished by spaniards and travellers to spain alike.

1. all over the country during december, you will find winter and christmas markets, where you can buy or just admire plenty of christmas-related must-have´s:  christmas trees, crafts and candles, home-made items, fruits and sweets.  the most famous markets are the ones in madrid and barcelona, but cities and town all over the country get adorned for the holidays: bilbao, zaragoza, valencia, granada are just a few.

BeFunky_market_better - by rod casro

2. another nationwide, centuries-old tradition is the spanish christmas lottery ´el gordo.´ one of the oldest in the world, it also has one of the biggest prizes each year. this comes at a cost though: the price is around 20€, friends and family often share the ticket price to participate, and if they are lucky, split the winnings! the ´big day´ is on the 22nd of december, when it is common for families and friends to get together to watch the draw.

BeFunky_loteria by álvaro ibáñez

3. food in spain is nearly sacred all year long, but during the winter period the streets and houses of spain are filled with a wonderful show involving all senses, made of various dishes and flavours. perhaps the most unique and eye-catching for the holidays are the sweets: turron is the ´king´ of spanish christmas sweets, a variety of nougat that is prepared in different ways, that has been documented since the 15th century.  mazapán (marzipan) and rosquillos de vino (ring-shaped cookies flavoured with wine and anise or cinnamon) are also very popular treats. yet another special smell and taste that spanish people associate with the cold season and christmas: delicious castañas asadas (roasted chestnuts), which fill the streets of spain from autumn.


4. representative of longheld religious traditions in spain, during christmas many cities and villages organise belenes vivientes, which are live large-scale performances about biblical scenes. the best known representations take place in buitrago de lozoya located in northern madrid, a charming village which offers the best setting between its walls and towers and the lozoya river.befunky_ cabalgata by Antonio J. de la Cerda 2

5. on the 28th of december, the spanish people celebrate the day of the innocent saints, a day when it is custom to make jokes and pranks, including for the national media, which publishes ridiculous and comical news. when the joker, or the pranker, is discovered, they are ´blamed´ in a friendly way by singing ´inocente, inocente!´ (innocent, innocent!).BeFunky_Inocentes

6. if the new year catches you in madrid, you will be able to enjoy a typical tradition happening every year at midnight in puerta del sol, the very centre of spain:  following the rhythm of the 12 strokes, spanish people eat 12 grapes, in celebration of the new year to come. the midnight countdown is followed by fiestas that last the whole night and a reinvigorating portion of churros con chocolate in the morning.


7. after new years´ you can celebrate the magical three wise men parade on the 5th of january, which precedes the day of the three wise men. in spain, it is traditional to give christmas gifts on this day, the 6th of january, rather than on the 25th of december. nevertheless, this tradition does not stop people from giving gifts on both days!befunky_ cabalgata by Ayuntamiento E.L.M. Real Cortijo de San Isidro

8. from the end of november, visitors can also enjoy the wonderful show of christmas lights in major cities across spain. every year in madrid, some of the best-known designers, architects and artists leave their marks on the city, creating light installations placed along the streets to surprise the locals and visitors.lights.jpg

sweets, gifts, songs, holidays and a magical aura that surrounds the streets and people of spain during winter time, these ingredients raise spain above the reputation of a sun-sand-and-summer destination to a culturally interesting country all year long.


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