Spain is a very diverse country. There are cultural differences in every region, and Christmas is not an exception.
Of course, we have shared customs and traditions, but there are other Christmas traditions too that are specific to each region.
I got 3 people to share some of these in the podcast.
You can listen in Spanish.
Or you can continue reading a summarised version of it in English.
Christmas in the Canary Islands
We start in the Canary Islands with Marina Rodríguez, from Lengua de Babel. I must confess I didn’t know about any of the things she mentions, which are:
- A Christmas carol called ‘Lo Divino’, performed by parrandas. Parrandas are an informal kind of band. To announce the start of Christmas, they go from house to house performing ‘Lo Divino’. People give them food and drink and neighbours improvise small street parties.
- The nativity scene at Las Canteras beach in Gran Canaria. It’s made of sand and it’s huge! Around 1500m². Once Christmas is over, it gets destroyed.
- They have different Christmas foods & treats. Marina’s favourite treat is called truchas de batata. They’re sweet potato pasties and, apart from sweet potato, they also have sugar, lemon, cinnamon and anisette.
- The weather is not cold in the Canaries, so it’s common for people to go to the beach at Christmas time. But tradition dictates that you should go for a swim in the ocean on January 1.
By the way, did you know there’s a Camino in the Canaries? Maybe I’ll invite Marina some other time to talk about it. What do you think?
Christmas in Extremadura
Liliana Duarte, from Lilidiomas, is from Portugal, but she lives in Extremadura and she tells us all about Christmas foods in this region.
Extremadura is in the west of Spain, next to Portugal and the Vía de la Plata goes through it.
Extremadura is well known for producing some of the best Iberian hams so, it’s only normal that ham would be one of the main starters, together with local cheeses like Torta del casar, Ibores or La Serena. Some families may also have the Extremaduran version of gazpacho.
For the main course, roasted lamb or piglet are popular options. Although Extremadura is landlocked, some families choose to have cod or octopus, probably influenced by Portugal. All of this accompanied by local wines.
And let’s not forget dessert. Apart from the Christmas treats that are common to all Spanish regions, Extremadurans also take roscos de vino (little cakes shaped like a ring doughnut and cooked in wine), and pestiños (honey fritters).
Christmas in Murcia
Lourdes Soriano, from El aula de Lourdes, is from the region of Murcia, in the south east of Spain. That’s where Caravaca de la Cruz is, and 2024 will be a jubilee year there. But Lourdes is not talking about the Camino de Caravaca de la Cruz or the jubilee year today. She’s sharing a couple of typical Christmas treats in the region.
- Cordiales originated in the east of Spain. They’re made of almond, eggs, sugar, wafer and a filling made of pumpkin and syrup.
- Alfajores, of arabic origin, contain honey, nuts and spices.
Find out more about Marina, Lili and Lourdes.
If you want to know more about the Canary Islands and the Spanish spoken there, Marina is the person you need. Check her website La Lengua de Babel.
Lili is from Portugal and teaches European Portuguese. You’ll find her on her website or her Youtube channel.)
Lourdes Soriano is a Spanish teacher from Murcia. You can find out more about her (and her podcast) in El Aula de Lourdes.
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