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A Very Spanish Christmas

The Spanish Christmas is kicked off in a rather unusual way every year – with the Loteria de Navidad, or the Christmas Lottery on December 22nd. School children announce the winning numbers of what is the most popular lottery throughout the year in Spain.

Shortly afterwards is Christmas Eve, or Nochebuena as it is known in Spanish. Families gather together for a large dinner before attending the Misa del Gallo, the midnight mass. Christmas Day in Spain is celebrated in the same way as it is in most other parts of the world. For the past few decades, the relatively new tradition of Papa Noel (Father Christmas) bringing presents has gained popularity in some parts of the country. However, certain regions like Catalonia and Aragon have retained their original customs, and it is the Tio de Nadal (a Yule Log which is an important character in Spanish mythology) that gives sweets and gifts to the children.

Another special day around Christmas is the ‘Dia de los Santos Inocentes’. Sort of like on April Fool’s Day, pranksters look out for inocentes or naive people to play tricks on.

A very important aspect of Christmas in Spain is celebrating the holiday with your family, which usually includes a great deal of people. Therefore it is no surprise that the Spanish royals are very family oriented at Christmas time. Every year they share a picture of their family with the public through their Christmas cards. While these pictures may not always feature the adults in the family, they never fail to include the children, particularly King Felipe’s two daughters, Leonor and Sofia.

In the past, while King Juan Carlos was still on the throne, the family’s Christmas cards would usually feature the King and Queen along with their grandchildren. The Royal Family traditionally followed a certain colour scheme while taking these pictures – Prince Felipe’s children would be dressed in pink, Infanta Elena’s children in blue, and Infanta Christina’s children in white.

This year, the new King’s Christmas card features a picture of his daughters in a warm embrace. The message inside reads: “Every day we have reason to find hope and peace in our hearts. We hope that the goodwill of Christmas will always light our way.”

In addition to King Felipe and Queen Letizia, the card has also been signed by 10 year-old Princess Leonor, who uses her official title of Princess of Asturias, and her younger sister, 8 year-old Sofia. Meanwhile, the King’s parents, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia also released a card of their own, featuring The Birth of Jesus, a painting by Italian artist Bernadino Luini.

Stay tuned for the next in our series of Royal Christmases. And in the meantime, Feliz Navidad!