In Spain, Christmas is one of the longest holidays of the year. Traditions in Spain are very special. Although a large number of traditions are celebrated throughout the Spanish territory, below we will showcase some of the local alternatives to Santa Claus, a very special way to do the countdown and some more!
1 “Caga Tió” – Christmas ‘crapping’ log
In Catalonia, a few days before Christmas, Caga Tió will be set somewhere visible at home. It basically consists of a log with a smiley face, to which people add a traditional catalan beanie. During Christmas Day, kids will beat the log while singing a song to make him defecate the presents.
2 Day of the Innocents
In Spain, an alternative to April Fools Day is “the Day of the Innocents. Celebrated on December 28, it is a mix between April Fools and Halloween since children are also expected to go door by door asking for sweets. People prepare pranks to their friends and families, and stick papers to people’s back. Even the newspapers and TV shows will produce fake news on this day for the enjoyment of the audience.
3 El Gordo: Spain’s Christmas lottery
In Spain there are two big lotteries during Christmas holidays: El Gordo (The Fat One) and el Niño (The Kid). El Gordo is the biggest in the world, and most of the Spaniards people take part on it. Usually, people share the same lottery number with family members and colleagues. Kept as a tradition, kids from San Ildefonso School announce the winners on the 22nd of December singing them.
4 Olentzero – The Basque ‘Father Christmas’
In the Basque Country, they have an alternative local version of Santa Claus. He looks more like a farmer, holding a smoking pipe, and wearing traditional clothes. He brings the presents to the kids during Christmas.
5 El belén
Many families in Spain love to have a nativity scene called “Belén” at home made with figures made of porcelain or other materials. In the area of Catalonia, people use a very special character: “el caganer”. He is a shepherd who is with his trousers down and defecating. Nowadays, they make funny versions of trendy people like Donald Trump or Justin Bieber.
6 Grape Eating at the Stroke of Midnight
The countdown in Spain is a bit special. Our tradition is to eat 12 grapes during the 12 bells at the stroke of midnight. It is said to be a sign of bad luck not being able to follow the pace of the strokes. For every grape you can eat, you will have good luck during one month of the coming year.
7 Three Kings
The tradition in Spain is that the kids receive the presents from the Three magic Kings. Nowadays some families celebrate Santa Claus or both.
The Three Kings come by with their camels from very far to give the presents to the the kids who behaved well during the year. If they did not behave, they will bring them coal! Nowadays, they receive a candy version of coal so at least they can eat it hahahaha.
During the evening of January 5th, there are parades with the kings all around the country. When the children sleep, they will get in all the houses and drop the presents. The 6th in the morning the kids will check what they got, and the whole day is a big family day.