Christmas in Spain starts with the traditional Christmas lottery draw on 22nd December.
Two days later, the night of the 24th, is “Noche Buena”, when the whole family get together at home and usually eat lamb or stuffed turkey, and for dessert, a scoop of ice cream with pineapple. After the meal the host places a tray full of turrones (nougat), chocolates and polvorones (shortbread) in the centre of the table, and while the adults toast with a glass of cider or champagne, the children sing carols to their grandparents in return for being allowed to eat nougat, chocolates and shortbread. Later, Santa Claus knocks on the door and leaves the children’s presents under the tree and the children run like crazy to get them.
The following morning, the 25th, the family come together again to eat and celebrate Christmas Day (the birth of Jesus).
The 28th is known as el día de los santos inocentes (Holy Innocents day), and typical pranks are played such as knocking on doors and running away, sticking paper dolls on people’s backs, etc….
On 31st December, Noche vieja (new year’s eve), family and friends come together to have dinner. We have fireworks and parties, and when the twelve chimes sound at midnight we eat a grape with each chime. If you manage to eat all twelve grapes by the end of the chimes you will have good luck throughout the year.
In the afternoon of the 5th January, los Reyes Magos (the three kings) pass through the streets of the city greeting children, picking up cards and handing out sweets. When the parade finishes, children run home to bed early to get ready for the three kings who will leave presents under the Christmas tree. On the 6th January, children wake up and go to the tree to see if the three kings have visited them, if they’ve been good there will be gifts, but if not there will just be a lump of coal. The rest of the day is spent visiting relatives and playing with new toys.