Culture around Spanish language

Celebrating Christmas in Spanish-Speaking Countries

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.

Spanish as a language

6 Christmas Phrases in Spanish for the Festivities

Nothing sounds better than speaking like a Spanish speaker. All languages contain a wide variety of expressions and sayings that enrich their culture.

Be creative this year when wishing a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year in Spanish. It’s not just about using Christmas phrases in Spanish, but also about using your imagination to surprise the people you love the most.

From Christmas cards to personalised videos, use a proper Spanish Christmas vocabulary this year.

The Funniest Ones

  1. ¡Te ha tocado el gordo!

“El gordo” is the biggest prize in the Spanish Christmas lottery. Precisely because of this, this Christmas expression is used on a daily basis throughout the year to express that someone has had a stroke of luck.

¿Te vas a Santander esta Navidad? ¡Caray! ¡Te ha tocado el gordo!

(Are you going to Santander this Christmas? Blimey, you’ve hit the jackpot!)

2. ¡Es más viejo que los Reyes Magos!

The Three Kings arrive every January 6th to bring presents to children. In Spain, it is very common to find the eternal debate about whether families prefer to receive a visit from Father Christmas or the Three Kings. Well, it seems that the Three Kings continue to win because they have been in the Spanish culture for more years.

Precisely, we use this expression to say that a person is quite old and does not adapt to modern times.

¡No seas más viejo que los Reyes Magos y deja que el niño llegue tarde a casa!

(Don’t be a traditionalist and let the child come home late!)

The Classic Ones

3. Que todos tus deseos se hagan realidad

At Christmas, we all want to wish our loved ones the very best, so as the holidays approach we want them to know that we remember them and that we want them to do well.

This is one of the many ways you can wish your nearest and dearest a Merry Christmas.

Por esta Navidad espero que todos tus deseos se hagan realidad.

(For this Christmas I hope all your wishes come true.)

4. ¡Feliz Navidad y próspero Año Nuevo!

Legend has it that you should wish everyone around you New Year’s greetings for good luck. Whether it is true or not, it is always nice to wish the best to others; they are small actions that enrich the soul and make us happier. Take the opportunity to express to your loved ones what they mean to you.

¡Os deseo a todos feliz Navidad y un próspero Año Nuevo! ¡Brindemos!

(I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Let’s toast!)

The Gastronomic Ones

5. Salir rodando

I suppose this is the most normal thing in all cultures, but at Christmas, we eat a lot. There is always a multitude of Christmas meals, such as work, family and friends. Some even take the opportunity to go out for dinner with school friends from when they were at high school or with people from the gym.

Well, from eating so much, we put on weight and figuratively, we get fatter and rounder, hence we can “roll around”. This is very common in Spain and Argentina.

Como sigamos comiendo así, vamos a salir rodando.

(If we keep eating like this, we’ll be full as a tick.)

6. Te van a dar las uvas

In Spain and in many Latin American countries, such as Venezuela, Peru, Argentina and Mexico, it is a tradition to eat twelve grapes at midnight on 31st December. It is the best way to say goodbye to the year that is leaving and welcome the new year.

These twelve chimes sound every few seconds, so you have to eat the grapes very quickly with each chime. This expression, therefore, means “to be late”.

¿Has comprado ya los regalos de Navidad? ¡Al final te van a dar las uvas!

(Have you bought your Christmas presents yet? You’re going to be late!)

Enjoy Christmas and write in Spanish

Christmas is a time to be with family and loved ones, but it is also a time to think about new challenges and get excited about new year’s resolutions.

iScribo is here to help you improve your written Spanish so that you can progress with the level you have in this language. Whether you are a native speaker or a beginner, everyone makes mistakes when writing. Try our tool this Christmas and discover its magic, ¡que no te den las uvas! Can you tell us what expressions you know and how you wish your loved ones a Merry Christmas? Leave us a comment and let’s share the most magical time of the year.

Improving language

Spanish Christmas Words and Capitalisation Tips

The most festive time of the year is approaching and any Spanish Christmas you write must be up to the task.

Today iScribo shows you the best Spanish Christmas words and greetings without making the typical mistakes during this time of year.

Common Nouns and Adjectives in Lowercase

All adjectives are written in lowercase, even if it is Christmas! Bear in mind that all words have to follow the standard grammatical rules, for example, at the beginning of a sentence or after a full stop, in that case, the word has to be capitalised.

We say “feliz Navidad” (Merry Christmas) and “próspero Año Nuevo” (Happy New Year).

The adjective “navideño” is also written in lowercase.

El equipo de iScribo os desea una feliz Navidad y un próspero Año Nuevo.

(The iScribo team wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.)

Esperamos que en las festividades navideñas seáis muy felices.

(We hope you will be very happy during the Christmas holidays.)

Navidad o navidad?

The names of festivities are written in capital letters as they are proper nouns and have to follow the rules of the Spanish Academy (RAE).

When we talk about the period of the festivity, it is possible to write it in lowercase:

Recuerda estas navidades que, si bebes, mejor ir en taxi y no conducir.

(Remember this Christmas that, if you drink, it is better to take a taxi and not to drive.)

We would then write Navidad (Christmas), Año Nuevo (New Year) and Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve).

Me he comprado un vestido rojo para Nochebuena.

(I bought a red dress for Christmas Eve.)

Al Fin de Año lo llamamos Nochevieja.

(We call New Year’s Eve Nochevieja.)

Proper Nouns, Capitalised

Niño Jesús and Jesús are proper nouns, so they should be written with a capital letter.

As for the plural, it is formed according to the rules for compound nouns, so it would be Niños Jesús and not Niños Jesuses.

The same applies to Papá Noel, which we would write in the plural Papás Noel and not Papás Noeles.

However, if we talk about the most Christmas-like man internationally as an ornament or as a doll, we will write it all together and in lower case, as it is a common noun:

Hay un concurso de papanoeles en el centro.

(There is a Santa’s contest in the city centre.)

Avoid Anglicisms

Let’s take care of Spanish language! Use Spanish words whenever you can.

For Christmas, we write a tarjeta de Navidad and not a Christmas or a crismas.

The same goes for Father Christmas, who is called Papá Noel, San Nicolás, Santa Claus, Santa Clos or Viejito Pascuero, depending on which Spanish-speaking country you are in. However, we will not say Santa Klaus or Papa Noël.

Esperamos la llegada de Papá Noel con mucha ilusión.

(We await the arrival of Father Christmas with great excitement.)

iScribo and Christmas Vocabulary Words in Spanish

There are many other writing tips to improve your writing, such as writing Nochebuena y Nochevieja as one word, which although they can be written as two separate words, is highly recommended to write them as one.

There are also other interesting expressions that you can learn en vísperas (while we wait for) Christmas Eve. No one better than the Fundéu and the RAE to guide you through the process. Remember that iScribo helps you to use capital letters correctly and improve your Christmas writing for when you want to wish your loved ones the best Christmas greetings.

IA and iScribo

Artificial Intelligence and the Christmas Lottery

Spaniards have been buying Christmas lottery tickets for months in the hope of winning the Christmas lottery jackpot that is coming soon. Normally, people choose a number that looks nice or a date that is special, but can artificial intelligence guess the numbers that are most likely to win? How do lottery algorithms work? Can you use algorithms to predict lottery numbers?

In other blog posts we have discussed how artificial intelligence improves our daily lives and how it makes our spelling and grammar checker work. New technologies are the order of the day, even in events that we had always considered completely traditional.

Discover today with iScribo how artificial intelligence and the luck factor can make you dream on a day with more than two hundred years of tradition.

What is the Christmas Lottery in Spain?

It is actually called the Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad and is what unofficially marks the start of Christmas in Spain.

The most exciting time of the year starts on 22 December every year in Madrid. The “gordo” – which is what the main prize is called, and yeah it means “the fat one” as an appreciative nickname, is four million euros to be shared out among those lucky enough to have the winning number, i.e. for every euro you bet, you would win an extra twenty thousand. There are a number of secondary prizes that are not bad either and could make every person very happy.

I don’t know anyone from Spain who doesn’t play at least one decimo, which is the lottery ticket. It is also very common to look forward to the long-awaited Christmas lottery advertisement a few weeks before the big day.

Artificial Intelligence Lottery Analysis

The Christmas lottery is a game of chance and, like all games of chance, it is based on statistics and algorithms through the study of big data.

Are artificial intelligence lottery predictions a real thing? We are sorry to say no, it is mostly a matter of luck. However, artificial intelligence is used to make patterns of users, which numbers tend to sell out first, in which months we prefer to buy and which number endings are most likely to be drawn. Not to mention that it is also used to connect all the lottery sales administrations on the day of the draw.

We’ll tell you where artificial intelligence works wonders: in sports. The macro data of each athlete helps us to draw a fairly reliable trend. Therefore, artificial intelligence is used in other types of lotteries such as sports results.

How can Artificial Intelligence Help Us?

We have already seen that it is impossible for artificial intelligence to tell us which numbers to choose to win the lottery, but we can benefit from it for other things. After all, the lottery is advertised as the most exciting day of the year, where the main objective is to share if you win the prize. Nice values, isn’t it?

For example, artificial intelligence reduces the risk of fraud in games of chance. Applied to the Christmas lottery, it means that the ball of the draw has the same dimensions and weighs the same, so it is very difficult for someone to take advantage of a failed ball to win the draw. These tedious processes used to be manual and consumed a lot of resources; nowadays it is done in a faster way thanks to the use of new technologies.

AI Corrects your Grammatical Mistakes

We can benefit from technological advances in many aspects of everyday life, such as in the workplace. Nowadays, virtually every profession requires writing skills, whether it’s in emails, reports, administration or marketing departments.

Good writing is your letter of introduction to the world, so you must do your best to ensure that what you write in Spanish is error-free.

iScribo works with artificial intelligence. Its engine feeds in correct Spanish grammar and implements changes to your documents in real-time. Our spelling and grammar checker corrects spelling and grammar mistakes you make unintentionally or through lack of knowledge. Visit our website and discover how to use our tool, you will see that it becomes the Spanish writing assistant you need. Have you tried iScribo yet?

Want more Spanish tips?

Get them direct to your inbox

Sign up for tips and tricks to perfect your Spanish writing skills. You’ll be writing like a native in no time.

Free Trial until 30 September 2021: Our subscription programme does not start until 1 October 2021. So, as long as you provide us with a feedback you can use our site for free until noon 30 September 2021 (GMT)