tio de navidad

Let’s face it, Spain is, in all its glory, a peculiar place. If you have grown here, all those peculiarities will seem normal. However, these fun facts about Christmas in Spain seen through the eyes of a visitor might feel a little… different.

Fun facts about Christmas in Spain

People wear red underwear to welcome the New Year

There are many superstitions surrounding the last day of the year. Some people make sure the first step of the year is with their right foot to start the year well, others will put a ring inside their champagne glass to bring love to their lives, and pretty much everyone will wear red underwear on the last night of the year.

Fun facts about Christmas in Spain
Fun facts about Christmas in Spain / Andra Ion/ Unsplash / https://unsplash.com/

It is believed that wearing red underpants and knickers will attract good luck for the new year and most people in Spain do it.

Very often, this will be something you buy for someone else, and if you think this is not that weird… just picture us buying a nice pair of red knickers for granny.

Fun fact: It is not just Santa who brings presents in Christmas in Spain

While Santa (Papá Noel in Spanish) does brings presents on Christmas morning, every kid in Spain knows The 3 Wise Men (Los Reyes Magos) bring more presents on the 5th of January.

But they are not the only characters making a appereance with gifts for Christmas.

Some regions even have their own traditions. In Catalonia, -and we know how it sounds and we promise we are not making it up- a tree trunk poops the presents to the children. It’s called the Tió de Nadal.

tio de navidad
Fun facts about Christmas in Spain / Andra Ion/ OK Apartmen / www.flickr.com

People playing the Zambomba

If there was ever a weird musical device, it must be the zambomba, a Spanish percussion instrument so peculiar it doesn’t even translate to other languages.

It is only used in Christmas time when singing Christmas carols, and you can only not be freaked out about it if you have grown up in Spain and you are used to seeing it.

Believe us when we say we even felt a bit uncomfortable telling you about it.  Therefore, instead of telling you how it works, we are simply going to show you and let you make up your mind about it. 

It is a fact that everyone eats 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve in Spain

While most people around the world welcome the new year with a toast and a kiss, Spaniards do it in a more challenging way.

Fun facts about Christmas in Spain
Fun facts about Christmas in Spain / Andra Ion/ Unsplash / https://unsplash.com/

When the clocks strike midnight, all the eyes are on the bells of the clock tower in Puerta del Sol in Madrid.

At midnight on the last day of the year, the bells will ring 12 times. People from Spain will eat one grape and make a wish for each time the bells rings, welcoming the year by eating 12 grapes. (And trying not to choke)

This is so common around Spain that you can now even find already prepared New Year’s Eve grape packets with 12 grapes ready peeled and without seeds so you can do it easier.

The Caganer, a fun and peculiar addition to the Christmas' Nativity Scene.

As part of the Christmas decorations process, most Spanish houses will also set up a Nativity scene with little figures.

It is such a big deal in Spain, and some Regions will set up huge ones for everyone to visit. Some of the most famous ones are the sand nativity scene in The Canaries, or the very elaborate ones you will find in Murcia.

But there is a very particular element of the nativity scene present in most houses that people might find down to earth and yet peculiar.

Fun facts about Christmas in Spain
Fun facts about Christmas in Spain / Caganer by @joan.r.orpi via Instagram

Along with Jesus, Joseph, Mary, the Three Wise Men and the angels, the Nativity scenes in Spain always includes a Shepard taking a sh*t.

More fun facts about Christmas in Spain

The “most magical time of the year” they say. We can only agree when we imagine Granny in her red pants playing the Zambomba.

If anyone asks what we want for Christmas, please let them know a Therapist voucher would be great. Thanks.

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