The pre-Christmas period is special as we are occupied with preparing everything. We try to plan where we will meet our families and friends, what presents we will give them and what we will serve. December is spent on decorating our houses and flats with various beautiful decorations. However, some of us decide to travel and spend Christmas abroad, for instance in Spain. Navidad is celebrated in a different way here.
A traditional Christmas tree and its trimming play an important role in Poland. According to the tradition, the tree ought to be decorated in the morning of Christmas Eve. The most common trees are pines and spruces, but artificial trees have gained popularity.
In the Iberian Peninsula, Nativities draw much attention as they are the main decoration in Spanish houses. Next to them, families gather to eat dinner together. A Nativity can consists of a few to several elements. Some people continue a tradition of buying another figure every year so that their Native becomes larger and prettier.
In Spain, Christmas begins on 22th December with the Christmas lottery Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad. When the king Carlos III ruled Spain, this tradition started and since that time it has been contuined. The Spanish take part in the lottery in the hope of winning a big amount of money every year. All families gather in front of the TV screen so as to listen carrefully the announcement of lucky numbers. Children from Colegio San Ildefonso in Madrid inform about the numbers by singing them away.
During Christmas Eve´ dinner in Poland, twelve meatless dishes are served, such as dumplings with mushrooms and cabbage, croquets, beetroot, fish or mushroom soups. On December 24th , the most willingly eaten fish is a carp. In Spain, the Christmas dinner begins with appetizers like roasted and cured meat as well as pâtés. After them, people eat regional specialities, for instance dry-cured ham jamón serrano. The Spanish have also a soup – consome which is similar to a Polish chicken broth. The main course is roasted piglet (Castilla La Mancha) or lamp (Castilla Leon). Additionally, sea food can be served. In the region of Andalucia, a roasted turkey is eaten.
As desserts, marzipan, nuts and turron can be found on the table. The last one is a type of a nougat with almonds. Polvorón and mantecados, cookies made of flour, milk and sugar with nuts, are very popular Christmas sweets in Andalucia. During the dinner, people drink usually wine. The most frequently chosen drink is a traditional sparkling Spanish white wine – cava.
After the dinner, Spanish people go to the church to Midnight Mass so-called la Misa del Gallo (the mass of a cock). According to the tradition, the rooster was the first to inform about the birth of Christ.
December 28th is an important day as Spanish people celebrate Massacre of the Innocents. They say many jokes and tricks so it resembles April Fool’s Day.
Counting down from 12 to the moment when the clock strikes midnight is characteristic in Spain. Every struck second is accompanied by eating one grape. It is believed that it will bring happiness for a further 12 months.