Christmas, or Navidad, in Spain is very similar to the Christmas that we know in the United States of America. Our own traditions, such as the decorating of Christmas trees, giving of gifts, and the display of nativity scenes, are also widespread across this European country. Though the bulk of the Christmas holiday has become shadowed by the commercial aspects of it in America, it is still very much a religious holiday in Spain.
Spain is famous for its Christmas Lottery. Despite the name, tickets for the lottery go on sale as early as the summer. In contrast with the system of lottery we know, you only buy a tenth of the ticket. If your ticket is a winning ticket, you receive a percentage of the winnings depending on how many tenths of the ticket you own. Because of this, the lottery becomes a social event among friends and family, with many people playing on one ticket. This lottery is one of the highest paying in the world, with a grand prize, or el gordo, upwards of 2 billion Euros, or nearly 3 billion U.S. dollars!
In Spain, Christmas Eve is the night of celebration. In Spanish it is Nochebuena, or “The Good Night.” On this night, houses and shops place lanterns and candles in their windows and go out on the streets for festivities. Groups perform a beautiful dance called the Jota. Once the parties settle down, families eat an enormous meal. The meal typically consists of roast lamp, pig suckling, or duck, and heavy amounts of seafood. After the Christmas Eve dinner, the bells toll as a reminder to attend the evening mass called la Misa del Gallo. The Rooster Mass is given its name because the rooster was the first to announce the birth of Jesus Christ.
Christmas day is simply continues where the day before left off. Many in Spain do not rest on Christmas Eve night because they believe that the goodnight is not for sleeping. Another large meal is served, but not as big as the one on Christmas Eve. The concept of Santa Claus, or Papa...