22nd December – All over Spain people stands in front of the TV or radio as the Christmas lottery is drawn over a period of many hours (starts at 9am) . Everybody in Spain buys tickets for this lottery in the hope of winning El Gordo (the fat one), is the biggest Lottery prize in the world. Besides the big prize, there are another 2 big ones and then thousands of small prices starting at 20€.
24th December – Christmas Eve is called Nochebuena in Spanish (Goodnight) and it is the most important family gathering of the year. In the evening people often meet early for a few drinks with friends then return home to enjoy a meal with the family. Most bars and restaurants close in the evening.
25th December – Some children may receive a small gift on Nochebuena or this morning but the day for presents is 6th January, Epiphany, when the Three Kings bring gifts for the children. Christmas Day is a national holiday in Spain so shops are closed yet it is not a day of great celebration but rather a calm day when people go out for a walk, drop into a bar, etc. Another large family meal at lunchtime is common though it’s becoming more common to see families eating out on the afternoon of Christmas day.
28th December – This is the day of Santos Inocentes (Holy Innocents) and is the equivalent of April Fools’ Day when people play practical jokes on one another. Often the national media will include a nonsense story in their broadcasts.
31st December – New Year’s Eve is known as NocheVieja (old night). It is a big celebration all over the country with street parties and special nights parties called “Cotillones” in hotels and clubs everywhere. Until midnight people tend to stay at home and on the stroke of midnight it is traditional to eat 12 grapes, one on each stroke of the clock to bring good luck for the new year. In Madrid and other main cities revellers congregate in the main square (Puerta del Sol in Madrid) and eat the grapes, after having eaten all grapes they cheers with a bottle of cava and then head out into the night until after sunrise. Commonly they finish the night (or rather start the new day, 1st of January), eating a hot chocolate with churros.
1st January – A low key public holiday with plenty of people sleeping off their excesses.
5th January – There are the 3 Kings Parade all over Spain, in all cities and villages. The 3 Kings meet children and throw sweet over all the people that came to watch the show. These parades are very beautiful and the atmosphere is plenty of joy and children’s excitement.
6th January – This is the Feast of the Epiphany (Día de los Reyes Magos) when the Three Kings arrived in Bethlehem. For Spanish children this is the most important day of the year when they wake up to find that Los Reyes Magos (the Three Kings/Wise Men) have left gifts for them in their house. Santa may leave them a token gift on December 25th but the Three Kings are their favourites. During the day of 6th the Three Kings continue their good work and are seen distributing gifts to children in hospitals all over Spain.