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Christmas costums

     In Spain, like in many other countries, means that most people do enjoy this festive season.
Spanish Christmas is full of traditions such as December 28th, our April Fools’, on this day, everybody is willing to play jokes on anyone, even the Radio and TV like broadcasting a false news, and there’s always someone ready to believe it if they don’t realise what day it is. Another important event is the Christmas Lottery which is held on December 22nd and people have their hopes pinned on winning.
On Christmas Eve houses, streets, schools and local places are already decorated. The most popular decoration is the nativity scene with figurines representing all the characters in the story along with landscapes, mountains,...etc. Some churches organise a competition for the best work and people go from one church to another to have a look and compare the different Nativity scenes.
The speech of the King to the nation is broadcast on the radio and the TV, and afterwards, the big Christmas Eve dinner starts with plenty of special and elaborated dishes and a selection of sweets such as "turron", which is a kind of candy made with almonds and with a fudge-like or hard nougat like consistency, fruits with frosting sugar and marzipan. All this special meal is accompanied by "cava" (special sparkling white wine). At midnight, when normally dinner is already finished, the grown-ups and the older children attend the midnight mass (Misa del Gallo), where the holy Family’s journey to Bethlehem is commemorated, and during the ceremony it’s possible to listen to Christmas carols and hymns of Christendom to call the faithful to worship.
Christmas Day is another family day with a big meal. Meeting friends, visiting close relatives and making your own list of gifts for January 6th, is what most people do on this day and the following days. New Year’s Eve is not as familiar as Christmas Every, but everybody waits for the bells. Then, for each bell you have to eat one grape up to 12 to the best of the New Year. - I would say that the most special and fascinating dates are the eve of the Epiphany and the day of the Three Wise Men. In Spain, the Epiphany remember the Three Wise Men from the East who were looking for the new baby Jesus and were guided all the way by the star of Bethlehem. This day is very special for children because they have previously written a letter. They would make a list of presents and wishes they want to get and these will only be granted if their behaviour has been good throughout the year.
On the eve of Epiphany , everybody goes to see the Three Wise Men’s Parade (La Cabalgata de Reyes) through town. Children go early to bed at night after they have properly polished their shoes and some food and drink have been left for the Three Wise Men and also some straw for their camels.
The following morning, after opening their presents, the whole family together have a special breakfast with "Roscón de Reyes" a traditional large-ring-shape cake in which two surprises are hidden , one for the good and one for the bad. If you get the good one you’ll be lucky (for the rest of the year)and if you get the bad one, you’ll have to pay for the cake.

Inma Iglesias

Tradiciones y Costumbres