Celebrating Christmas in Spain? Here’s What You Need to Know!

Moving to Spain as an auxiliare, an au pair or even just for work, often means you’ll most likely have to get used to several Spanish traditions, including Christmas. Here’s what you need to know about Christmas in Spain – it’s celebrated a little bit differently than what you know. 

How people celebrate Christmas in Spain?

Christmas in Spain

Interesting read: The Strange Adventures of an American Living in Spain and Italy

First of all – Spaniards don’t have a Santa Claus. Apparently, the climate change just doesn’t suit him and Rudolph doesn’t like to fly so close to the sun. But they DO have Three Kings, also known as los Reyes Magos. 

You might find that the usual Christmas day in Spain is just like any other – if you’re in Valencia or any of the main cities, you can even go to several main attractions and many stores will remain open (I visited Valencia’s zoo on Christmas day and it was wonderful).

Some families, especially expats, do still celebrate Santa Claus, also known as Papa Noel, however, things might be slightly different in a traditional family setting. 

Huh? So when do the Spanish celebrate Christmas?

The date you need to remember is January 6th, also known as el Dia de Reyes. The Three Kings bring presents for children and children at heart. All major cities, including Barcelona and Madrid, hold a Three Kings Parade which usually consists of themed floats traveling on a route across the city and handing out candy to the children.

An important event that also takes place around Christmas time is… the lottery. Lotería de Navidad has been big in Spain since 1812 and it’s known to be the biggest lottery worldwide. So get in that line, get your hopes up and who knows, your Christmas might just turn out to be extra special.

C-c-check it out: 21 Reasons Why We Should All Move to Barcelona

Christmas in Spain: food traditions

Christmas time is the perfect time for the Spanish to bring out the best of the best – we’re talking food and drinks that’ll keep you full way after January 6th. Here’s what you’ll eat if you ever visit Spain during Christmas: 

  • Turrón

It’s the almond Christmas candy and its history dates back to the Moorish origin. All this simple treat contains are almonds, egg whites and honey, but don’t underestimate it – it’s delicious, addictive, and you’ll be coming back for more. 

  • Polvorones and mantecados

Almonds, sugar, lard and cinnamon – say no more, I’m totally sold on this Christmas staple shortbread. The production of these sweets started in Estepa, a town close to Seville. But it wasn’t long before the entire country caught on that they’re creating something so yummy and so addictive, it just had to be mass produced elsewhere. 

  • Roscón de Reyes

Ah, the battle of Roscon de Reyes. It’s a huge thing during Christmas in Spain and people get very passionate about this recipe – a lot of shops claim they have the best of the best Roscon de Reyes bread, but the truth is, this is a very subjective statement. However, it is something you should try at least once when in Spain.

Día de #roscondereyes ! ¿Cuál es tu favorito? El nuestro de crema!

A photo posted by COCINA CASERA (@cocinacaseraes) on

  • and… grapes

While grapes might not be necessarily a Christmas tradition, Spaniards do this weird thing on New Years that I just can’t get on board with – they eat 12 grapes at midnight, one with each bell ring. In a way, it’s a superstition – it simply means you’ll have lucky 12 months ahead. That is, unless you accidentally choke on one.

Anyways, Spotahome wishes you FELIZ NAVIDAD, wherever you’re celebrating it!

Did you make it to the end? Check out one of my favorite articles: Spotahome Food Guide: Everything You Need to Eat in Valencia

How do YOU celebrate Christmas in Spain?


Mandy Lutman
Full-time Spotahome Blog Manager, part-time guitar playing, travel loving, soul searching hippy. Want to contribute to the blog? Drop us an email at blog(at)spotahome.com! Can’t wait to talk to you! 🙂

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3 Responses

  1. Débora de la Fuente says:

    Hi there!

    Let me explain that grape tradution stuff.
    This began to turn into a tradition from 1909. This was caused by a surplus of crop of grape in Alicante (Valencia). It was such an impact in the bourgeois society un that period, that in the 21st century they start drinking with champagne and were eating grapes to see off the year.

    Other thing you set, it’s that we don’t celebrate Santa Claus. Nowadays there are people Who celebrate it.

    Welk, think that in our past we were a catholic country, that was ruled by the catholic religion.
    “The Three Magic kings” come from the Bible, where it explain that they search for the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and when they find him, they give him gold, incense and myrrh.

    There’s other stuff we eat, but it depends on the region you Life.
    For example in Catalonia, for Saint Esteban, it’s comun to eat “galets”, it’s a Shell shape pasta that it served with a soap.
    Un other regions it’s more comun to eat stuff like “cochinillo”, “cordero”, “cocido” , sea food (if we are talking of the north regions of Spain, like Galicia, Asturias,etc. But Nowadays all it has become more usual in all the regions), “Canelones”,etc.

    It’s better if you search it in Google images.

    I hope it help,
    See yaa!

  2. Alex says:

    Christmas is a little different from Spain. We give out presents to our family members and open them with close friends and family. We also have big dinners. On Christmas day we wake up early and open up gifts. We put up decorations and Christmas trees. We put a star on the top of the tree.

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