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Royal Christmas

Family, military and tradition – a busy Christmas for Spain’s royals

Each family has its own Christmas tradition, and royal families are no exception.

The Spanish Royal Family starts Christmas festivities by releasing their Christmas cards early in December. They share the chards that they will be sending out to those who send them holiday greetings over the festive period.

The Christmas card sent by King Felipe and Queen Letizia in 2022 (© Casa de SM el Rey)

King Felipe, Queen Letizia, Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofía have their signatures printed on their card, and sometimes add personal messages. King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía also have their signatures on their card printed on. The two continue to send joint cards even though King Juan Carlos now lives in Abu Dhabi.

King Felipe delivers his annual Christmas Eve address in the evening on 24 December to the Spanish people from Zarzuela Palace. In 2023, it will be closely followed after several months of political turmoil as well as major royal events including the coming of age of Felipe’s elder daughter, Princess Leonor.

King Felipe delivers his Christmas address in 2021 (Casa de S.M. el Rey)

Usually, the entire Spanish Royal Family has dinner at Zarzuela Palace on 24 December. The following day in recent times has been reserved for the Ortiz family when King Felipe and Queen Letizia host lunch for her family at their home on Christmas Day.

This will be a rather special Christmas, too, as Princess Leonor has been away on military training while her younger sister, Infanta Sofia, has spent the autumn at UWC Atlantic College in Wales where she’s started a two year course.

Spain’s Christmas-related celebrations do not end on 25 December. On the eve of Epiphany, they used to gather to celebrate the birthday of King Juan Carlos which falls on January 5th. However, in recent times, he has been in Abu Dhabi. This is also the time of the main present giving in Spain.

King Felipe and Queen Letizia at the Pascua Militar

Epiphany, January 6, also sees King Felipe and Queen Letizia oversee the Pascua Militar with this formal event bringing the Christmas celebrations to an end.

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About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. She's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites including Global News Canada, ABC News Australia, WION India and BBC World News.