Spanish traditions for the Christmas season

Spanish traditions for the Christmas season

As we gradually get used to the cold of December and we approach the (long awaited) end of 2020, we cannot help but to start humming our favorite carols (campana sobre campana, y sobre campana una…) and embrace the arrival of one of the most expected holidays in the Spanish calendar: Christmas. 

Warm lights and all sorts of Christmas decorations take the spotlight in the city streets, as shops start to fill up with toys and gifts for those last-minute buyers rushing to look for the perfect Christmas present.

For Spaniards, the Christmas holidays are one of the most important celebrations of the year, since it is always a season of joy, family union and happiness. But if there’s something that makes Christmas so special, it is undoubtedly the traditions and customs that unite all Spaniards year after year.

Keep reading to discover the most interesting and typical Spanish traditions (Have grapes come to your mind yet?):

Lucky 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve

Indeed, One of the most deeply rooted Christmas traditions in Spain is to have one grape for each month of the year at 12 o’clock on New Year’s Eve, because it is said to bring good luck.

At the last minute of the year, 12 bells ring out to mark the beginning of the new year. After bells and grapes everyone toasts and kisses to congratulate and wish each other the best. Every year at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid there is a simulation on December 30th at 12 pm, known as the ‘pre-uvas’ (pre-grapes).

Christmas Lottery Hunt

There is a municipality in Lleida called “Sort”, which in Spanish means “Luck”. This town sells the most sought-after Christmas lottery due to its name. Here the lottery is a real festival and its administration, “La Bruixa d’Or”, sells an incredible number of tickets every year.

December 22nd, the day of the National Christmas Draw, is one of the most eagerly awaited dates since the first edition was held in 1812. Ever since then, every Spaniard makes sure to get at least one ticket, and gift their loved ones with one as well. Many companies have also turned Christmas lottery into a tradition gifting their employees with a ticket every year, sharing therefore their good fortune wishes.

Red underwear for the New Year

In addition to the lucky grapes, Spaniards also wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve as it is believed that this color will bring good luck to those who wear it on the last night of the year.

The most accepted explanation for this tradition dates back to the Middle Age. The color red was related to the devil and witchcraft; therefore, it was forbidden to wear it in public. At the time it was also believed that in winter, when everything is white and there is no color in the streets, wearing something red was a symbol of life and good luck, but since it was forbidden, people would wear red clothes in secret, and what better way than to wear them as underwear? In Spain this tradition has been kept to this day.

Put a piece of jewelry in your cava glass

Another way to ensure good luck is to toast with either cava or champagne and add inside the glass some gold, for example a ring, at the time of the toast. You should not take the gold out of the glass until you’ve finished drinking and hugging those in the room at the moment of celebrating the arrival of the new year, otherwise the ritual is said not to be valid.

If it is the wedding ring you’re putting inside the glass, the duration and wellbeing of the marriage is said to be guaranteed for one year. This formula is also valid to ensure the love of a person, just by placing a ring inside his/her glass at the time of the toast and let the person in question drink.

These are some of the main Spanish traditions during Christmas, but there are many more. Some are more deeply rooted than others, but all have something in common: enjoying family and friends, saying goodbye to the year that is ending and welcoming the one that is beginning, hoping for the best year possible.