Christmas in Spanish-speaking countries mixes local tradition with the Catholic tradition, but the family bond is the most important part of the celebrations.
Family is what binds us all together during the most magical time of the year while celebrating Christmas in Spanish-speaking countries. From Christmas Eve gatherings to meals on the twenty-fifth of December, sharing these days of the year with your loved ones is at the heart of Christmas in Spanish-speaking countries around the world.
iScribo tells you the most curious traditions of some countries so that you can learn a bit of Christmas culture around our favourite language.
The nueve posadas and the Año Viejo
Christmas celebrations start in Mexico on 16 December with “las nueve posadas” (the nine inns), which represent Mary and Joseph seeking shelter. When they reach the ninth and final posada, which is a family home offered for the occasion, a great feast is held. The Christmas celebrations last until January.
In Argentina, the most curious tradition is in the cities of Buenos Aires and La Plata, where the inhabitants make a huge straw doll, the “Año Viejo”, which they burn in the New Year. The spectacle of fire can be seen from a long distance. Other countries such as Peru, Uruguay, Chile, Cuba, Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras also celebrate this tradition with modifications.
It is also a tradition to hang a red sock on the door of every house in the country.
The Inmaculada Concepción and the Día de las Velitas
In Spain, Christmas starts on the eighth of December with the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Spanish decorate their homes with the famous nativity scene.
In the north of the country, it is traditional to eat lamb on Christmas Eve, and in the south, turkey. This is accompanied by countless starters and delicious fish and seafood, not forgetting mantecados and turrones for dessert.
Christmas culminates with the Three Kings parade on the 6th of January.
One of the most spectacular Christmas lights in the world is the one in Medellín, Colombia. In this beautiful country, Christmas begins with the “Día de las Velitas” (Day of the Candles) on the 7th of December.
In Medellín, Colombians decorate the river with lights and in Barranquilla and Bogotá they decorate the streets with candles.
During all the festivities, Colombians will eat the famous ajiaco from Santa Fe, lechona, natilla and buñuelos.
The Espíritu de la Navidad and the Avenidazo
Venezuela begins celebrating Christmas on 4 December with Santa Barbara, when homes are decorated. The “Espíritu de la Navidad” (Spirit of Christmas) is celebrated on 21 December, when Venezuelans light candles and drink tea, signifying prosperity for the year to come.
Don’t miss out the Christmas Eve dinner with hallacas, dulce lechosa and pork-based dishes on a night that culminates in the giving of gifts.
In Costa Rica, there is a tradition that is celebrated every year, this one between the fifth and eleventh of December, which marks the beginning of Christmas. This is “El Avenidazo“, where the Central Avenue of San José is closed to traffic so that people can dedicate those days to Christmas shopping. The tradition includes meals in the restaurants along the avenue and the throwing of confetti every other day to the rhythm of concerts. Costa Ricans throw the confetti to simulate the Christmas snow. Of course! In Costa Rica the temperature is very mild, even on these holidays.
Travel this Christmas and Write in Spanish
At iScribo we love the Spanish language, that’s why, as well as helping you to write better with our spelling and grammar checker, we bring you closer to the culture surrounding the language. Christmas in Spanish-speaking countries around the world is as special as it is diverse. What’s more, the way Christmas is celebrated in Spain crosses borders and has brought the very same Three Kings parade on January 6th to the centre of New York. Christmas traditions in Latin America are famous and worth seeing, their beauty is unique and unrepeatable. Do you know more Christmas traditions in Latin America? Tell us in the comments about your experience and let’s get to know together a little bit more about the diversity of Spanish around the world.