Family Traditions in Spain

December 31, 2018
In a few hours we'll be welcoming 2019, I can't believe how fast time flies! My husband and I are joining our families to celebrate with a traditional Spanish holiday dinner at home. We are very family oriented, like the vast majority of people in Spain. Spanish families have strong ties, much stronger than in most countries, I believe. Since it's still holiday season, which is our favorite time of the year, I want to tell you about family traditions and customs in Spain.

Most young people don’t leave home until their late twenties. Mainly because of the lack of job opportunities and extremely high rent prices. But staying at home this long also shows how important family life is for us. Many families gather together nearly every weekend and most of us talk on the phone daily with our mothers or fathers. Family comes first.

Many people are reluctant to move somewhere else across the country even though many people our age have had to move to a big city like Madrid to find good jobs. Those of us who are "far" from our families, visit them once or twice a month.
So, what are some examples of family traditions and customs in Spain?

Copious meals during the holidays
We have a big dinner on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and big lunch on Christmas Day and January 1. Apart from the holidays, our moms make sure they stuff us with delicious food every single weekend we visit.
spain family traditions holidays customs baked brie dry fruit nuts
Chocolate con churros
An extremely popular winter activity is having chocolate con churros with family or friends, either at home or outside. If you are in Madrid you must try it at Chocolateria San Gines, it's a must for locals and tourists alike.
chocolateria san gines madrid spain family traditions holidays customs chocolate churros
Twelve grapes
On on New Year's Eve we cook a dinner that's pretty similar to the one on Christmas Eve. After the NYE dinner, we eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight. It is believed that whoever eats their 12 grapes as the bells chime (one for each of the twelve chimes) will have a lucky and prosperous year. And let me tell you something, this is not an easy task!
spain family traditions holidays customs twelve grapes nye new years eve
Children wait for The Three Wise Men
Nowadays things have changed and many children get present from Santa too, but traditionally it was The Three Wise Men who left gifts by the Christmas tree. On every Spanish city and many towns there is a "Three Wise Men Parade" happening on the evening of January 5. Kids leave their shoes, sweets and glasses of water for the Kings and their camels before going to bed. The following morning they open presents if they have been good or they get charcoal if they have been naughty.
spain family traditions holidays customs three wise men
Games
We have a specific deck of cards, known as Baraja española (Spanish deck), which is different from the deck used for poker. It was designed and published by Heraclio Fournier in 1889. Some examples of popular games are mus, chinchon, brisca or escoba.

Domino is also a popular game to play with your grandparents.

Meal times & food
Food is extremely important for us, it's part of our culture.
Spanish families have a big lunch around 2-3 pm. Unless you live in a big city, you go back home to have lunch and then go back to work. Dinner is light and happens around 9 pm.
If you go out to have dinner with friends, you will meet between 9-10 pm and come back home around 12 pm or 1 am. If you go partying, nobody will expect you to be home before 4 am. If you are having a blast, you will get home at 7 am and maybe you've even had breakfast.

Read about how you can host a tapas feast here

What are some examples of family traditions in your country?

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spain family traditions holidays customs

11 comments

  1. It's interesting how in Spain the children's presents come on Jan. 5, whereas in northern Europe (Belgium, Scandinavian countries, even northern France), it's Dec. 6--Saint Nicolas Day.

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  2. I love learning about family traditions! These sound so fun!

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  3. I love finding out how other cultures spend their holidays. We are a huge game family, and actually have a tradiiton of a trivia game before we open presents or eat! It's an amazing way to have fun around what is sometimes a stressful holiday!

    Ashlee | www.ashleestuart.com

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  4. This sounds like such a fun New Year's, Cristina! I hope you have a fantastic one and all the best for 2019! :)

    -Lor
    https://hyggememories.wordpress.com/

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  5. I've never heard of the 12 grapes. I'm from Pennsylvania Dutch country, where the traditional new years feast is pork, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes.

    Thanks for linking up at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2018/12/king-of-mountain-kitty-style.html, and have a wonderful year in 2019

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  6. I love learning about different family traditions. I especially like the 12 grapes!

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  7. I've heard about the 12 grapes challenge! I can imagine it isn't easy!

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  8. Pperlenoir Style by ElenaJanuary 2, 2019 at 5:21 PM

    Preciosas fotos.
    Una muy buena publicación.
    ¡Feliz 2019 Cristina!
    http://www.pperlenoirstyle.com

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  9. Now this is a fun and informative read. Thanks for sharing this tradition dear.
    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

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  10. I loved reading about your traiditions. The kids leaving out shoes, and water for the three wise men and camels.. Love the photos and always find your wirting on Spain so interesting!
    thanks for linking!
    jess xx
    www.elegantlydressedandstylish.com

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  11. Wow, so fun! I think I'd have a problem though as I am usually asleep by 9 or 10. :)

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