The Holidays are Coming – a guide to the festive season in Spain

The holidays are coming…, the holidays are coming…, and even though everything is different this year, December and January is still full-on holiday season in Spain, with no less than 11 holidays coming up. Here’s a quick run-down…

December 6 – Día de la Constitución – “Constitution Day”. This is the day that Spain became a democracy, and has been a national holiday in Spain ever since. This year it will be celebrated on Monday the 7th, because the 6th is on a Sunday, and forms part of the first ´puente´ (long weekend) of December, together with the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

December 8 – The official holiday of Immaculada Concepción, which marks the beginning of the religious Christmas celebrations. 

December 21 – In a few cities, including Granada, the celebration of Hogueras (bonfires) takes place. This date marks the winter solstice (the shortest day) and where it is celebrated, there’s a tradition where people jump through fire to protect themselves from illness – a rather significant event in the light of the current pandemic.

December 22 – People all across Spain tensely watch the TV as the ‘el Gordo’ Christmas lottery draw takes place!  We all buy tickets for this lottery, in the hope of winning El Gordo, – the fat one! 

December 24 – Christmas Eve or in Spanish, Nochebuena – the most important family gathering of the year. This year, the advice is to celebrate Christmas with your own household as much as possible, and if inviting guests, to limit the company to a maximum of 10 people.

December 25 – Children can receive a present on Nochebuena, or Christmas morning, but the real day for gifts is January 6 – Epifania / Epiphany – when the Three Kings bring presents for the children. Christmas Day is a national holiday in Spain, so shops are closed, but unlike other countries, it’s not a day of grand celebration, but rather a quiet day when people take a walk, this year more than ever.

December 28 – is Santos Inocentes, and is the equivalent of April Fools’ Day when people play tricks on each other. Often the national media will include a nonsense story in their broadcasts. 

December 31 – New Year’s Eve is known as NocheVieja. Usually, this involves a big party all over the country, with street parties and special evenings in hotels and clubs. This year we will stick to the tradition of eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight –  one for each beat of the clock – to bring good luck for the New Year, and how much we all need this! And just so you know, on this night, wearing red underwear is said to bring good luck, and putting money in your shoe, financial prosperity!

January 1 – Año Nuevo / New Year! A quiet holiday to rest and get ready for the year to come.

January 5 – There are usually street processions all over Spain, where sweets are thrown from the floats at all the people who come to watch. We’re not really sure what it will look like this year, but if the Sierra Nevada ski slopes are open, the Three Kings (Wise Men) will ski down to the village.

January 6 – This is the Feast of the Epiphany (Día de los Reyes Magos) to mark the day when the Three Kings arrived in Bethlehem. For Spanish children, this is the most important day of the year, when they wake up to discover that Los Reyes Magos have left gifts for them in their home

While there does seem to be so many restrictions and rules in place, we do hope that you will all have a lovely festive season with your families and (safely) enjoy the holidays, wherever you are.  Here’s to a better 2021.