Important Holidays in Spain (Winter Season)
If you are thinking about travelling to Spain for the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays, have a look at this Club La Costa guide to the Spanish winter celebrations to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the important festivals that occur in our Club La Costa Resorts and Hotels throughout the season.
- December 21st –Many cities throughout the Andalucia region, including Granada which is under 2 hours from Club La Costa Resorts and Hotels, take part in a celebration known as Hogueras, which literally translates to ‘bonfires’. During this celebration, the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year) is celebrated. A typical event which takes place is people jumping over fires to protect themselves from illness in the upcoming year.
Few Spanish homes are without a ‘Belén’ – or nativity scene – over the Christmas period. Whether small and personal or on an almost industrial scale, as seen in Malaga airport which is the principle airport for Club La Costa Resorts and Hotels, these recreations of Bethlehem hold very special significance, to the extent that many towns hold annual contests while others mount a ‘living nativity’ as part of their celebration. Entire shops are given over to the myriad pieces that form the elaborate Belén – selling everything from human and animal figures to buildings and landscapes. Families collect pieces over many years, and the entire Belén is often handed down between generations.
- December 24th –In Spain, Christmas Eve is called Nochebuena and marks the most important family meeting of the year. People usually spend the late afternoons and early evening with friends for a few drinks and tapas, then head back home to enjoy a nice family dinner. A specialty treat that is very typical on this night is called turrón, nougat made of toasted sweet almond and honey. This treat is typically accompanied with a glass of Cava, Catalan champagne, and of course a wide array of great Spanish wines will be consumed.�After their evening meal, the whole family will go to church for the traditional midnight Mass or “Misa Del Gallo”, which in a devoutly Roman Catholic country is much more than a ‘Carol Service’ event and holds great significance as an important part of Christmas.
- December 25th – Christmas Day is celebrated as a national holiday in Spain, so all the shops are closed. This day is not celebrated as the typical ¨day for presents¨ as that day occurs on the 6th of January when the Three Kings bring the presents for the children, but more of a day to relax and spend time with families. There is typically a big lunchtime meal with the family and maybe a few drinks with friends in the evening. Club La Costa Resorts and Hotels remains open and offers a Christmas menu for guests.
- December 28th –The day of Santos Inocentes (Holy Innocents) is celebrated much like another Western holiday, April Fool’s Day. This holiday finds children and adults playing practical jokes on each other. This is a fun day to run wild and play some pranks on your friends and family.On the same day, the traditional ‘Verdiales’ contests take place outside Malaga, half an hour from Club La Costa Resorts and Hotels. Nothing like this exists outside Spain with the competitive festival involving incredibly colourful costumes, vigorous and intricate traditional dancing and folk music, performed by groups or ‘pandas’ who wear flowers, bells and beads – a bit like English Morris dancers.
- December 31st–In Spain, New Year’s Eve is called Noche Vieja (old year). This celebration is one of the biggest in all of Spain with parties happening in the streets, hotels, and bars and clubs everywhere. Club La Costa Resorts and Hotels hosts a New Year dinner with a mouth-watering menu. The party stays at home for many until midnight, as it is a tradition to eat 12 grapes, one at each chime of the clock. Tradition has it that anyone who manages all 12 grapes, without choking, will have 12 months of prosperity – it’s not as easy as it sounds, but it’s fun to have a go! After the grapes and Cava, the party begins and goes on well into the next morning.
- January 1st– This public holiday is generally reserved for recuperating from the festivities from the night before. Most shops are closed and people tend to stay at home and recover. The spa facilities at Club La Costa Resorts and Hotels remain open, and invite anyone who ‘over-indulged’ to relax and recuperate.
- January 5th -There are parades and processions throughout Spain during the evening where participants receive sweets and candies thrown from the floats. In some Andalucian towns near the Sierra Nevada Mountains, approximately 2 hours from Club La Costa Resorts and Hotels, the Three Kings can be seen skiing down into the village! After all the excitement outdoors, and just before going to bed, children traditionally leave their shoes out (not their stockings here!) so that the Three Kings can leave gifts – just as they did with the infant Jesus.
- January 6th–This date marks the Feast of the Epiphany, which is when the Three Kings arrived in Bethlehem. Much like Christmas Day around the rest of the world, this is the most important day for Spanish children. In the morning, they will awake to find that Los Reyes Magos (The Three Kings) have brought them gifts.�Families typically start the day on 6th January with a huge breakfast that includes a large, ring-shaped cake called “Roscon de los Reyes”. The traditional sweet treat comes with dried fruits and two surprises hidden inside – the person who finds the ‘prize’ becomes King or Queen for the day, while whoever finds the unlucky ‘bean’ pays for next year’s cake!