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Long before the big day arrives you start to feel the Christmas cheer and excitement in Spain. From mid-November shopping malls and shop windows are filled with Christmas decorations and the streets are adorned with lights and Christmas trees.

Spain wouldn’t be Christmas without the iconic “Portal de Belén“. A nativity scene representing the birth of Jesus. Models are set up in homes, churches, shopping centres, even Málaga airport has one! The tradition is to buy a new piece for your model every year.

Portal de Belén

Another very typical decorative element of Christmas in Spain is the Christmas poinsettia plant. Towns and villages throughout Spain plant these to bring cheer and colour to the streets.

Christmas poinsettia plant

Nochebuena is the Spanish word for Christmas Eve. It literally means “the Good Night” and is celebrated on December 24. Traditionally, Nochebuena is when family and friends get together for dinner and open their presents.

The Christmas Eve dinner menu varies according to each family and region of Spain, but there is one thing always in common: the dinner is an elaborate feast with starters, and often two main courses, followed by dessert and, finally, a great variety of sweets, including turron and marzipan. Traditionally, there is one fish or seafood course and one meat course.

The Christmas Eve dinner

Christmas Day (December 25) is a national bank holiday and Spain celebrates the birth of Christ. Families and friends get together again for lunch, but presents have already been opened on Christmas Eve. And the main day for giving Christmas presents is on Three Kings Day (January 6).

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