Here in Spain, the Christmas and the New Year celebrations are slightly different those in the England.
22nd December – The day of the draw for the national Christmas lottery – El gordo (the fat one). The draw goes on for most of the day, with many winning tickets and prizes varying from small amounts to hundreds of millions of euros! The prize pot this year was over two billion euros!!!
24th December – Christmas Eve sees a family gathering and a large meal of many savoury dishes including fish and meat. Plus many sweet dishes, ‘el turrón (nougat – honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds or other nuts), los polvorónes ( a soft and very crumbly Spanish shortbread) and marzipan.
25th December – Christmas Day is not so different with some gifts and a family meal.
28th December – Los Santos Inocentes, the origin is religious but nowadays it is festive fun when everyone plays jokes on each other, joke news on tv and in the newspapers etc, just like April Fool’s Day. I guess with Spain loving a fiesta, it is another excuse for a celebration in between Christmas and New Year!
31st December – Nochevieja (old year). This dinner is spent with friends rather than family. And did you know, you should wear red underwear to bring you luck during the next year?! Most people watch the countdown to the New Year with the ringing of the bells at Puerta del Sol in Madrid. The tradition is to eat 12 grapes within the time it takes for 12 chimes, followed with Cava and plenty of it! Then the real fiesta starts and at sunrise you have a typical breakfast of hot chocolate with churros (strips of fried dough dusted with sugar or cinnamon).
1st January – A family dinner but maybe not much of an appetite for anyone due to ‘resaca’ or to you and me ‘hangover’!
6th January – El dia de los Reyes Magos (the day of the Three Kings or Three Wise Men). The children write their letters to the Kings with their gift wishes. On the 5th, they should go to bed early, leaving their shoes out for Kings to visit and fill with gifts! Then on the 6th, the traditional breakfast is Roscón de Reyes which is a ring-shaped cake decorated with dried fruits symbolizing the precious gems that adorned the Kings lavish clothes. Normally, hidden in the cake are two plastic-wrapped figurines, a faba bean (similar to a broad bean) and a small king. Whoever finds the small king will be “king” or “queen” of the feast and will have good luck all the year. But person who finds the faba bean has to pay for the roscón!
Wishing all our family and friends a wonderful Christmas and a happy 2018!!