This winter, why not escape the cold, dreary weather on a Christmas holiday in Spain with luxury hotel chain Paradores? Not only do many parts of Spain enjoy warm, mild weather during the winter months, but this lively country is also rich in holiday traditions that will surely make your holiday season a memorable one.
The holiday season in Spain
Celebrations in Spain last from December 24 until January 6, beginning with Christmas Eve, called Nochebuena in Spanish. Many Spanish families mark the beginning of the holiday season with a large dinner of several courses, often including lamb or chicken. Of course, given that the Spanish meal schedule is much later than in other cultures, dinner is eaten around ten at night.
Several hours later, when everyone has finished dinner, many families play games or chat late into the night. More religious families may choose to go to midnight mass, called Misa del Gallo, which translates to "mass of the cockerel".
Christmas Day in Spain is a low-key affair. Though the tradition of Father Christmas has caught on in recent years, Three Kings' Day on January 6 remains the most important day for exchanging gifts. The night before Three Kings' Day, nearly all Spanish cities and towns host a parade called Cabalgata de los Reyes, which ends with an appearance by the Three Wise men themselves who throw sweets to the crowds of children. On the day itself, Spaniards also like to eat a delicious pastry called Roscón de Reyes, a circular cake in which a surprise such as a porcelain figure is baked.
On New Year's Eve in Spain, families gather for a large dinner of several courses. Afterwards, some stay at home to celebrate with family, while others go out to enjoy the busy Spanish nightlife. Wherever you are, as the bells of the town clock or bell tower chime 12 times to mark the New Year, everyone must eat 12 grapes for good luck. The bells chime quickly, though, so it can be quite difficult to get all grapes down the hatch!
Winter holidays at Paradores
Travellers who wish to spend Christmas in Spain should consider Parador Lorca, which sits in the Castle of Lorca. It is located in Murcia, an area famous for its Auto de los Reyes Magos, which is a play telling the story of the Three Wise Men. The play, which is one of the oldest traditions of theatre in Spain, is put on in villages and cities all over the region.
Parador Granada, built in a 15th century convent, is another luxurious hotel where you can spend a cheerful Christmas. Granada is spectacularly lit up with Christmas lights and large, outdoor nativity scenes during this time of year.
Parador Cañadas del Teide is located within the park of Teide volcano in the Canary Islands. On Christmas Eve there, people perform special dances around a manger which contains a figure of baby Jesus.
Parador Cádiz in sunny Cádiz is a magical destination for a winter escape during the holidays. The sounds of zambomba, a tradition in which people get together to sing carols to the beat of special drums, fill the air during the days leading up to Christmas.
Interested in spending this Christmas in warm, sunny Spain? Contact Paradores today.