During all of December we have some great romance steals for every type of reader. We’re excited to welcome Nina Croft sharing Christmas traditions in Spain and be sure to check out Uncontrollable on sale for just 99¢!
Hi all, I’m Nina Croft and I write all sorts of romance, contemporary, science fiction, paranormal… I’m English, but I live on an almond farm in the mountains of southern Spain between the Mediterranean and the Sierra Nevada.
One of the great things about living in another country is experiencing the different culture and traditions. And that’s never more obvious than in the holiday season.
So how do the Spanish celebrate Christmas?
It all kicks off on the December 22nd when they draw the Christmas lottery, known as El Gordo – the ‘Fat One’. It’s one of the biggest lotteries in the world and has been held here in Spain since 1812, not even stopping for the Spanish civil war. Tickets are usually bought by groups rather than individuals, so you’ll find whole villages get a happy Christmas.
The festive food is very different from the traditional English fare. I love nibbling at Entremeses, plates of appetisers, including ham, chorizo, morcilla (that’s black pudding—actually, I don’t touch this stuff – ugh!) local cheeses such as Manchego, and olives. They are often served at the start of the Christmas or Christmas Eve meal.
Seafood also plays a big role in a Spanish Christmas food and is usually eaten on Christmas Eve. Lobster and prawns are popular. This is one tradition I follow, as I love seafood.
Cochinillo or roast suckling pig is often eaten on Christmas day, and at this time of year the supermarket freezers and fridges are full of whole little baby pigs (I have a pet house pig called Piggles and haven’t eaten pork in a long time so this will not be on the menu in our house!)
If you’re not worried about breaking your teeth, then you need to try Turrón, which is very popular at Christmas time in Spain. It’s a sort of nougat, typically made from almonds (did I mention I live on an almond farm—lots of things have almonds in them around here.)
Not to forget the best bit—no Spanish Christmas meal is complete without a glass (or a bottle—honestly the stuff is addictive) of Cava, the Spanish version of French Champagne. My fridge will be well stocked!
At new year here, they have a tradition of eating 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight. You eat the first on the first strike, the second on the second strike and so on. It’s almost impossible to keep up (it would be interesting to find the statistics on how many people have choked on grapes while participating in this tradition) the only way is to not try and chew, just crunch and swallow. You do then get to wash them down with a glass of cava, which makes the effort worthwhile. And if you manage all twelve, then you are guaranteed a prosperous coming year. The other slightly weird thing about this tradition is you’re supposed to wear red underwear while eating your grapes—and the underwear should be given to you by someone else. The shops here are full of red underwear at this time of year.
And finally, here in Spain the children don’t get their presents on Christmas day. They have to wait until The Three Kings day on January 6th when there is a big parade in all the villages. Obviously, I don’t follow this tradition—the wait would kill me!
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