In Spain, the Christmas Season begins on “Nochebuena”, or Christmas Eve. In the days before, children sing carols in the neighborhood, and the Christmas Eve is the day on which Spanish families gather for the main Christmas meal, that usually includes seafood. One of the most popular festive desserts is “Turrón”, a sweet with an Arabic origin that contains honey and almonds, and is enjoyed by Spanish people all year round, but even more in Christmas time. Turrón comes in various forms, textures and qualities, and usually has the shape of a rectangle or a circle.
Some traditionally Spanish treats that are prepared during the holiday season are “mantecados”, the famous Spanish cookies that often include almond, chocolate, lemon, or orange. Similar to those are “polvorones”, another type of shortbread cookie, with similar ingredients. Also, “pestiños” are Christmas treats mostly popular in Southern Spain, made of fried dough, and flavored with sugar or honey.
As for the traditions, a special day in Spain is the 28th of December, called “Día de los santos inocentes”, or the day of the innocent Saints, that has a lot in common with April’s fool day, as people trick each other. On New Year’s Eve, there is a tradition of eating 12 grapes, with each grape representing a month of the year.
The last celebration of the season takes place on January 6th, on the festival of the three magic kings, namely the wise men who brought gifts to baby Jesus when he was born. It is common for Spanish kids to open their presents on this day, instead of the Christmas day, and eat “Roscon de reyes”, a circular sweetbread with candied fruits. Similar to Greek Vasilopita, that contains a lucky coin, and French Galette des Rois, that is baked with a trinket inside it, a small figure of baby Jesus is hidden into Roscon de reyes, and the person who gets it is blessed with a lucky new year. Let’s hope that 2021 will be a fortunate and happier year for all of us!