SPAIN is a country placed in the south-east of Europe and next to Portugal, forming the Iberian Pensinula. Having mainly a temperate and Mediterranean climate, Spain has hot summers and cold winters. Although it is a country with few snowfalls, the biggest country in the Iberian Peninsula has many traditions regarding winter holidays and Christmas.
CHRISTMAS IN SPAIN
In this country, Christmas is really a religious holiday. The spiritual protector of Spain is the Virgin Mary , and the winter holiday season begins very early for Spanish people: it officially starts on December 8th. The Christmas Eve night is known in Spain as "Noche Buena" (the good night). The whole family gathers around the manger scene with baby Jesus. This is a scene present in most of the Spanish countries, and as a good idea for doing shopping, you can buy one for yourself as a souvenir from Spain. The preparations and food are also special. Christmas dinner s are highly influenced by the Arabic culture. In this way, the Arabs brought in the traditional dinner products like rice, oranges, or almonds. There is a specific cake, made with almonds, nuts, or dried fruits; this is one of the other dishes that cannot be absent from Spaniards' table on Christmas Eve.
A HAPPY MOMENT FOR SPANISH CHILDREN
In Spain, the Christmas presents are brought by the wise men, moving in procession of courtiers, knights and fiddlers. Spanish children receive gifts twice, during this period: on the 26th of December and on the 6th of January. On December 26th, they are given gifts by "Papa Noel" (Santa Clause), and on January 6th, they are given gifts by "Los Reyes Magos" (the three kings). On this January night, children leave their boots in front of the door, full of carrots, barely, and straw. They consider these to be gifts for the kings' horses, that are supposed to be very tired after traveling all over the country. The most beloved magician is Balthazar; he comes on a donkey and gives the children that were good and steady during the year lots of toys and sweets. To conclude, children can wait for the coming winter holidays in Spain.
CHOOSE CHRISTMAS AS A PERIOD TO VISIT SPAIN
With all these traditions, Spain is visited every year by lots of tourists during this period, all waiting to learn more about Spanish customs and to understand better the lifestyle in Spain. Behave yourself, book some tickets to Spain this winter and be sure that Balthazar has a gift for you too.