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Christmas day in Spain

December 25th, spanish christmas is full of tradition and it is celebrated in family but one of the things, which doesn’t look like the other countries, is the moment when children have to open their gifts.

In Spain, children have to do it only the january 6th because, according to the new testament, it was the day when the 3 wise men (Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) brought gifts to Jesus.

In the streets, there are few things to do since everything is close - well almost everything except some shops and restaurants. Few spanish people will be outside, majority will be with their family at home all day,

some will go back in their hometown or visit their parents who don’t live in their city. Myself I will go to Valladolid to celebrate it with the family of my girlfriend.

In fact for foreigners who live here like me, it is the most boring day of the year. When I came here in october 2000 and still single, instead to go back in the house of my parents, I decided to stay in Spain to pass christmas, thinking that it will be funny but it was not. Going outside, streets are only conquered by other foreigners like me who were looking something to do. At the end, the following years, I went home or with some friends, we organized our own christmas day.

The traditional foods are:

  • jamón iberico. There are a lot of iberian ham types from the cheaper (around 20€/kg) to the expensive one (it can reach easily 100€/kg or more) and the best one is called “pata negra” (black feet).
  • polvoròn. It is a kind of sweet bun and principal ingredients are flour, sugar, pig grease and almond.
  • mazapán. A sweet biscuit based principally of almond and sugar.
  • angula. Young eel, it is quite expensive and the popular plate is called “angulas a la bilbaína”.
  • mantecado. A sweet biscuit based principally of pig butter.
  • pan de cadiz. It is a marzipan pastel filled with yolk jam and glazed sweet potato.
  • roscon de reyes. The king pastel has a circle form and decorated with crystallized fruit, only for the day january 6th.
  • fruta escarchada. They are simply candied fruit.
  • cereza al marasquino. Cherry with liquor and chocolate, they are like "Mon Chéri" chocolate except to be square, they are round.
  • peladilla. It is the famous sugared almond.
  • turrón. It exists a lot of nougats from soft to hard one, so hard that you can break your teeth trying to eat !!! But also different tastes like almond, chocolate, nut...

If you decide to pass your winter holidays in Spain, you can find those products in any supermarkets. I may forget some but at least, they are the main ones and some can be found only during christmas time like polvoròn, mantecado, roscon de reyes...

I like everything except hard nougat (turrón - too hard to eat) and the king pastel (roscon de reyes – the taste is a little bitter and inside the cake, there is no cream, no jam... nothing except a little fairy figurine).

The tradition of this cake is that the person who finds the fairy, he/she will have luck during the whole year. Also it exists another tradition, the person who has it, he/she has to pay the cake.

In Catalonia, you will find a particular nice character called Tio de Nadal (Christmas log), it is part of the catalan culture and tradition. In fact, it is just a small trunk with a smiling face and 2 or 4 legs. The tradition is to put inside candies starting from december 8 until the Christmas night and to wrap it with a blanket to protect it against the cold night.

Before, for the last night, people burnt it until defecating it. Actually, a kid has to hit it quickly with a stick meanwhile singing the traditional song of the Tio de Nadal until to get all the candies.

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