Christmas Day in Spain is observed on the 25th of December, as in most other countries of the world.
Here, the Christmas season officially begins with December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is a public holiday in Spain. Every year, the occassion is celebrated before the great Gothic cathedral in Seville with a ceremony called "Los Seises" or the "dance of six." It is literally a dance performance, though not of six, but ten boys in elaborate costumes making beautiful rythmic movements.
Christmas here is not as huge a commercial occasion as in most other western nations. Virgin Mary is the patron saint of Spain and hence, Christmas is observed here with great devotion and piety. It is a religious festival with an adequate measure of festive excitement. In the main cities, stores are beautifully decorated with Christmas lights and stuffed with Christmas supplies from the first week of December. Christmas trees come up in almost every home across the country from the second half of December. Also to be found in every household are beautiful mini-sized "Belénes" or Nativity scenes. The Belén typically includes baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Three Kings, Baltasar, Melchior and Gaspar. It depicts life in the village where Jesus was born.
Christmas Eve in Spain is known as "Nochebuena" or "Good Night." It is a time for family gatherings. Family members come together for joyous feasting and merrymaking during this time. In the evening, people go out to have a few drinks with friends and rush back to enjoy mouthwatering dishes with the family. Naturally, most bars and restaurants pull down their shutters in the evening. Christmas dinner is never eaten until after midnight. A typical Spanish Christmas dinner begins with the serving of prawn
followed by a roasted lamb. The dessert is traditionally a Christmas sweet, either the "turrón" - a nougat made of toasted sweet almonds or the "Polvorone", made from almonds, flour and sugar. The meal is consumed to the accompaniment of fine Spanish wines. Cava, a Catalan champagne, is generally the chosen drink for the Christmas toast. The feast is followed by family members gathering around the Christmas tree and singing Christmas carols and hymns of Christendom. The merrymaking often continues until daybreak.
On Christmas Day, families visit local churches to attend the religious services. The feasting and rejoicing goes on on this day also. Families have a grand lunch on the afternoon of Christmas Day. A unique custom here is the hanging of swings throughout the courtyards and young people riding them with much joy. Children recieve a small gift on the 25th morning but they have to wait till the 6th of January(Epiphany) to get their actual presents, supposedly from the Three Wise Men(not Santa Claus) who are said to leave gifts for kids on the latters' shoes on the Eve of Epiphany, January 5th.
Christmas Day is a national holiday in Spain. Hence, almost all shops remain closed on this day.