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BY Valeska Idarraga · Travel Spain · December 17, 2015

Three different Spanish Christmas traditions: Madrid, Barcelona and Jerez de la Frontera

Spain is one of the best destinations in the world for Christmas celebrations. Spaniards certainly know how to celebrate Christmas. Celebrating the Nativity in Spain is quite different from the ways it is celebrated by residents of US, UK and other Western nations. This time of year is oriented towards celebration and enjoying great time with friends and family. Christmas in Spain is a special time of the year full of joy and happiness even for non-Christians.

Native scene in Spain during Christmas celebration

The Fat One “El Gordo” and the Christmas spirit

Celebrating Christmas in Spain starts off a bit earlier in comparison to other destinations around the world beginning from December 22nd with the biggest lottery draw in the world – El Gordo (the Fat One). This event, which gives a total prize fund of 2.1 billion euros to participants, takes place for many hours all day long and is seen by millions of people in Spain. The major cities of Spain are beautifully decorated with commercial lights during the first week of December. At this time of the year, most shops in Spain are fully stocked with Christmas supplies. Almost every home has its own display of Christmas tree but they don’t appear until the second week of December. If you are lucky enough to visit Spain for Christmas, you shouldn’t miss out on seeing the nativity scenes which depict life in the village where Christ was born. Visit Spain this Christmas and enjoy massive fun, excitement and lovely activities including Christmas carols, festive street lightings, decorations and a vibrant festive atmosphere.

Madrid in December

During the festive periods, Madrid gets completely transformed. Great shopping, nativity scenes, vibrant markets, light shows, concerts, great tasting food and lively night scenes all makes Madrid one of the best destinations to visit in Spain. There are plenty of things to enjoy in Madrid in December.

Madrid Christmas Market

One of the oldest traditions in Madrid is the Christmas Market located in Plaza Mayor. Plaza Mayor, a magnificent square, plays host to some of the top events, concerts and fairs celebrated in the country. One of the best places to visit is the Plaza Mayor’s Christmas Market which offers plenty of handcrafts work, gifts and Christmas decorations. Asides shopping, visiting Plaza Mayor is a must as it stands as a symbol of the Austrians borough. Feel the atmosphere and get into the Christmas spirit exploring this historical place.

Christmas shopping

During Christmas, Madrid turns out to become the capital of shopping as most of its streets are beautifully designed and crowded with shopaholics looking to buy great gift items and presents. Major shopping centers to visit during Christmas include Fuencarral Street; El Corte Inglés, well known for being Spain’s biggest department store; and the Salamanca Square where you’ll find top quality brands and jewelry.

Christmas Markets in Spain

Nativity Scenes Exhibition

Hundreds of thousands of people from different parts of the world visit Madrid to attend the Nativity Scenes Exhibitions. Some of the most visited Nativity Scenes include the Plaza Mayor, the San Isidro Museum, the Cultural Center Fernando Fernán Gómez and the Madrid’s History Museum. Nativity Scenes Exhibition is a time for visitors to share the illusions of Christmas, which features some of the popular events associated with the birth of Jesus.

Celebrating Christmas in Barcelona

If you are planning your next trip to Barcelona, Christmas time is a very special choice. Barcelona offers much more Christmas romance than any other destination in Spain. Seasonal carols, nativity scene in one of the city’s historical cathedrals, great restaurants and festive markets – the Catalan capital offers plenty of things to see and do during Christmas. The streets are elegantly decorated and also filled with colorful lights. If Christmas Eve is considered the summit in Spain as most family members take dinner together before going out to visit friends and extended family with presents, Catalonia has a slightly different tradition. In Barcelona – and Catalonia – Saint Stephen’s is the big day, and the tradition says in December the 26th, the day after Christmas and bank holiday, you should celebrate lunch eating cannelloni traditionally made with the leftovers of Christmas lunch, in part due to Catalonia’s long tradition in making pasta. And of course, don’t forget to toast with cava!

christmas-barcelona-caneloni

Barcelona Christmas Markets

Having spent the weeks prior to Christmas strolling around Barcelona’s streets and exploring its historical Christmas market, it is a clear indication that Barcelona offers a lot of incredible things at this time of year. The city is home to several incredible Christmas markets. Fira de Santa Llucia Christmas Market is perhaps one of the most popular and classic Christmas market in Barcelona. Here you’ll find several Christmas trees, decorations and mistletoe. Another place worth visiting is the Fira de Nadal at the Sagrada Familia which makes it possible for visitors to do some Christmas shopping and also see the Sagrada Familia in just one trip.

Caga Tió

The Caga Tió, also known as Shitting Log is a weird scatological Christmas tradition in Barcelona which is destined to amaze locals and tourists alike. According to custom, locals paint a hollow log with a smiley face and have it displayed in their homes. The children are asked to feed the Caga Tio a bit of food and drink daily beginning from the 8th of December up to Christmas. On the Christmas day, the children are the tasked to beat the log with stick to encourage it to shit. This tradition is practiced in many homes. Other places to experience the Caga Tio is at the Christmas markets festivals, shops and the Fira de Santa Llucia, where you’ll find the world’s largest Tio.

christmas-barcelona-cagatio 

Celebrating Christmas in Jerez de la Frontera

Renowned for being the capital of sherry and Spanish brandy, Jerez is surrounded by spectacular vineyards. The city can be explored on foot as most of its top attractions are closely located. Here you’ll find some of the finest flamenco in Spain as well as several excellent tablaos.

The Traditions of Zambomba in Jerez

Zambomba, which means more than just the traditional musical instrument played during Christmas season, is widely celebrated among locals and tourists alike in Jerez de la Frontera at this time of the year. This events features plenty of sweet cakes, carols, dancing and good wine for everyone. Dating back to the 18th century, Zambomba celebration is that time of the year when friends and family gather together in their yards to sing carols and dance around the fire. It is an event not to miss out on seeing especially when in Jerez for Christmas. Considered the Jerez most traditional Christmas customs, the Zambomba is always celebrated with flamenco songs, traditional confectionery and local wines. The flamenco carol is what makes this event spectacular and fun as people can join in, dancing, singing, clapping or playing instruments.

 

Private flamenco Christmas traditions in Jerez

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