World Of Christmas
Read about Christmas and its traditions in Spain and Spanish Christmas customs.

Christmas in Spain

In Spain, Christmas is quite festive. The festival season starts with the feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8th of December, which is held annually in front of the great Gothic cathedral in Seville. The ceremony and celebrations on this day are known as 'los Seises' or the 'dance of six.' However, the ritual dance performance has precise movements and gestures and is performed by ten boys that are decked in elaborate costumes. On Christmas Eve known as 'Nochebuena' or 'the Good Night', tiny oil lamps are lit in all the houses with the appearance of the stars in the sky. There is a festive Christmas dinner for family members who gather around the Nativity scenes in their homes after the Midnight Mass.

Traditional Spanish Christmas treat is Turron, almond candy. After the dinner, people dance on streets. The special Christmas dance of Spain is called 'Jota' and it is said that the lyrics and music on which it is performed is centuries old. Musical instruments such as guitars and castanets accompany Jota. Manger scenes are decorated in cathedrals and churches as well as homes. They often use carved figures and families gather around the manger during before Christmas to sing carols and children play tambourines and dance. Cows receive special honor in Spain, as Spanish people believe that the cow in the stable where Mary gave birth to Jesus, breathed on the baby to keep him warm. Spanish Christmas is very religious.

The patron saint of the country is Virgin Mary. Swing sets are especially set up for Christmas and it is believed that swinging at solstice time evokes an ancient desire in the sun to 'swing' higher in the sky. On 28th of December, there is the feast of the Holy Innocents. Young boys light bonfires and one is appointed the mayor for the day, who orders all the people of the town or village to perform civic chores such as sweeping the streets.

Any refusals warrant fines, which are used to pay for Christmas celebrations. Spanish children receive gifts on 6th of January by the Three Wise Men. On the previous evening, they leave their shoes outside and fill them with straw or barley and carrots for their camels and horses and find that it is gone by the morning and are replaced by presents for them instead. Shoes may be kept in doorways, windowsills or balconies, where the Wise Men can find them easily.