Christmas traditions in Spain
As the song goes “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” – at Leddy Homes, we are big fans of Christmas. It is a magical time of year when people are generally nicer to each other, more generous to charity and need we mention Christmas Jumpers? Families and friends get together and if you’re lucky, there is food and drink aplenty. Christmas in Spain is slightly different than elsewhere in Europe. Perhaps you have recently purchased a home in Spain and are spending your first Christmas here? Maybe you are here on holiday to research local property and get a feel for this beautiful stretch of the Costa Blanca? If you are in the area for Christmas, there is plenty to do and we are delighted to bring this short guide to some of our festive favourites.
Generally, Christmas in Spain is celebrated on the night of the 24th when families will gather for a very late (and very large) meal. The meal often starts with ‘entremeses’ which is a big sharing platter, usually with cold cured meats and cheeses. The main course is often seafood, suckling pig (‘cochinillo’) or lamb depending on the region. Of course, desserts feature heavily with sweet turrón (nougat which comes from the Alicante region, but many regions now have their own ‘twist’ on the traditional). Also favourite among those with a sweet tooth are polvorónes and mantecados which are powdery pastries first made in Spain around the 16th century and still featured heavily in supermarkets today around Christmas time.
The second important meal of the Christmas season in Spanish homes takes place in early January to celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings (when Spanish children receive their gifts). Usually, there is a parade in the town where the Three Kings give sweets and toys to local children after which families go home for a big meal. A favourite here is the ‘Roscón de Reyes’ which is a circular cake topped with ‘jewels’ of candied fruit. Often, this comes with a paper crown and if you find the miniature king inside the cake, you get to wear the crown and are king for the day. Here on the Costa Blanca, most major supermarkets such as Mercadona and Carrefour stock the Roscón de Reyes from late December until early January. The most popular Three Kings parade in this region takes place in Torrevieja.
Usually the kings (accompanied by a large parade of wonderful characters) depart the port area at around 5pm on the evening of the 5th January and the parade makes its way to the main square.
Of course, no Christmas event would be complete without a nice glass of cava which is the traditional Spanish sparkling wine. There are many varieties – a popular brand here on the Costa Blanca is Freixenet which is produced near Barcelona but there are many to choose from and most of which are delicious when served chilled.
Apart from the food and drink itself, there are many events taking place in the major towns across the Costa Blanca. Guardamar del Segura has a hugely popular ‘Christmas Village’ which is inaugurated on December 20th. Children have the opportunity to see Santa, send a letter to the three kings.
In Alicante city itself, there is a Christmas market throughout the whole month. Head to the area beside the cathedral (Plaza de San Nicolas) every day (except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) until the 5th January.
In Los Montesinos, there is a whole host of events planned including musical and dance performances as well as a skateboarding school to keep children occupied during the Christmas break! Many of the concerts and shows are free to attend, so click on the ‘events’ link above in this paragraph for more details on dates and times.
One of the highlights for food lovers is the Guardamar del Segura Gourmet Tapas Route. There are six of the town’s top restaurants offering a gourmet tapa and a drink for €5. There is a lovely local food blog (a very handy resource if you are looking for ideas on where to eat out at any time of the year) called ‘My Good Food Guide Torrevieja’ – they have given a really thorough and useful description of the Gourmet Tapas Route so rather than reinventing the wheel, we’d recommend you visit and ‘like’ their page and read all about it. The Gourmet Tapas Route runs in Guardamar until the 23rd December.
Not really a traditional Spanish event, but if you are looking for something different to do on Christmas Day itself, many residents of the Orihuela Costa and surrounding areas descend on La Zenia Beach for drinks, Christmas music and a few glasses of cava beginning around mid morning. The event has grown in popularity over recent years and now attracts an estimated 3000 people – most of whom dress in festive jumpers and santa hats.
If you are visiting the Costa Blanca with children or grandchildren, then you won’t want to miss Santa’s parade at Zenia Boulevard which takes place on Saturday 22nd. While you’re there, you can try your hand at ice skating on the real ice rink in the main square of the shopping centre.
So, whether you are here to view Spanish property, to spend time with family and friends on the Costa Blanca, or just to have a Christmas experience in the sun, there is no shortage of things to do and places to visit. Whatever your plans, we hope you have a wonderful Christmas and from all of us at Leddy Homes, a happy and prosperous 2019.