Most of the people call it ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. Christmas has its own traditions in every country and so does it as well in Spain. In Valencia it is very unlikely to have a white Christmas, but that does not mean it will not be celebrated here! Christmas and New year’s eve are the perfect way to experience the Spanish culture to the fullest as an Erasmus student!
One of the typical Spanish traditions, which you will see in every street in every Spanish city, is called the Belén. The name Belén refers to Bethlehem, and it is the Christmas crib. The Belén always include the baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph as well as the Three Kings, Baltasar, Melchior and Gaspar, as these kings are very important in Spain and they have their own special day (the 5th of January). The Belén can be found everywhere, in shopping windows, schools, churches but also in houses.
Food is a very important part of the Christmas tradition in every culture, the same holds for the Spanish culture. As the main dishes do not differ much from the traditional ones that are eaten all of the world, such as lamb, seafood and Christmas stew, Spain does have its own, traditional sweet, that is often eaten as a dessert. This is called Turrón and it is a very popular sweet, mostly made of honey, sugar and egg white with toasted almonds or nuts.
There are a lot of different types, different structures, hard (turrón duro) and soft (turrón blando), , different ingredients and turróns from different regions of Spain.
The origin of the name of Turrón (torró in Catalan) goes back to the history of Spain. All versions of the name appear to have been derived from Latin torrere (to toast). The modern confection might be derived from the Muslim recipe prevalent in parts of Islamic Spain known as turun.
All of the food is accompanied by lots of wine, cava and champagne!
One of the biggest Christmas traditions which is very popular in Spain is the annual Christmas lottery in which there is a huge jackpot! This huge jackpot is called ‘El Gordo’, which lots of times is mistakenly used for the lottery itself. Another fun fact about the lotería de Navidad: it is the second longest continuously running lottery in the world. The draw is organized on the 22nd of December every year, the day in which every Spanish person is hoping this will be their lucky year and el Gordo will be waiting for one of them..
To see the promotional video of the lottery for this year, click here!
Some of the events that are being organized in Valencia, besides the beautiful lights in the city centre, which bring you in the perfect mood for Christmas, are for example la feria de navidad and the ice skating rink.
The Feria de navidad is a big fun fair, which is organized every year in Valencia. The location of the fun fair is close to the port, with a diversity of different attractions and food stands. For both young and old people there are enough things to enjoy here! Do you like to gamble or are more of a dare devil? Pick your favourite attraction and enjoy the sensation of a fun fair. Are you more into food? Take a look around and you will find all kinds of food, from typical Spanish churros to cotton candy to hotdogs! For more information about the opening hours and the special offers at the fun fair, take a look at their website
Once you have survived all of the festivities of Christmas, it’s time for New Year’s Eve! It is common, like most cultures do, to celebrate the turn of the year with family and friends, during a good dinner with lots of Spanish cava. At 12 o’clock, when Nochevieja ends and the New Year officially starts, it is tradition to eat 12 grapes for good luck. To each sound of the bells, that starting at 00.00, one grape has to be eaten. If you manage to eat all of the 12 grapes, this will bring you good luck for the next year. It is harder than it seems, but you should definitely try it!
Happy Foreigners World wishes you wonderful days! Feliz navidad y prospero año nuevo! See you next year!