Your guide to Christmas traditions in Spain

The Epiphany, when the Three Kings visited Baby Jesus, is the biggest day on the Spanish festive calendar

MANY countries around the world celebrate Christmas on December 24 or 25, but the biggest day in the Spanish festive calendar is January 6. Here, we investigate how traditions in Spain differ to those in other parts of the world, and why.

December traditions

Spain has a rich Christmas programme thanks to its lengthy history as a Catholic country. In the lead up to Christmas, the country has a well-established schedule of traditions including ‘belén’ nativity displays which take place in most towns in the country, with many ‘living nativity’ scenes.

Less religious traditions include the December lottery, ‘El Gordo’, which is the world’s biggest lottery draw. Nearly the whole country takes part in this competition, which sees numbers drawn on December 22.

Christmas Eve and Day

Spanish people traditionally spend these days with their families. Most families have Christmas dinners and lunches on both days with different members of their families before a midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Father Christmas is less of a tradition in Spain, but increasingly, he visits some homes across the country on Christmas Eve.

Los Reyes Magos

January 6 is a crucial day on the Spanish calendar. This national holiday commemorate the Epiphany, the Three Kings’ visit to see Baby Jesus. ‘Cabalgata’ parades are held on January 5, where huge floats travel around the streets distributing sweets to spectators. Later that night, the Wise Men visit children’s houses and leave presents, like Santa!