Whether your favourite part of Christmas is opening your presents or enjoying an elaborate Christmas meal with your family and friends, a Christmas on the Costa del Sol is one that you’ll never forget. If you’ve just moved to Spain and this is your first year celebrating Christmas in the country, you might not be quite sure what to expect. Don’t worry, we’re here to help!
Here’s everything you need to know about Christmas traditions in Spain, and all of the festive things to see and do on the Costa del Sol this Christmas and New Year:
Spanish Christmas Traditions
Whilst in the UK, Christmas Dinner is traditionally eaten at lunchtime on the 25th December (shortly before the Queen’s Speech), in Spain most families will eat their Christmas meal on Christmas Eve, before they go to the midnight mass service in their local church.
Presents don’t form an important part of Christmas in Spain. Children may have some presents on Christmas Day, but most are opened at Epiphany (which is celebrated on 6th January). Epiphany celebrates when the three wise men or Kings brought their gifts to the baby Jesus, and rather than a belief in Santa Claus, Spanish children believe that it is the kings that bring them presents. They also write letters to the kings rather than to Santa Claus or Father Christmas.
In terms of decorations, Nativity Scenes are popular throughout Spain: these are often life size scenes and can be situated in town centers or outside churches. Occasionally they even include real animals! A popular Christmas tradition is to enjoy the 'Pastorets' which are big plays/presentations about the Christmas story, the birth of Jesus. They include music and readings from the bible, and are wonderful social events that bring the community together.
And what about the all-important Christmas food? Well you won’t find any roast turkey and boiled sprouts here! Fish is very common as a Christmas day main course, particularly in coastal regions, whilst roast lamb or suckling pork are also popular. For dessert, crumbly shortbread biscuits, marzipan, and honey and almond-based desserts are all favoured.
Christmas Activities on the Costa Del Sol
If you’re spending your Christmas on the Costa del Sol then you’re sure to be wondering what traditions and activities you can enjoy. This is the perfect opportunity to embrace Christmas in the sun: there’s no wrapping up warm or ice skating in the square here. Instead, you can go carol singing on the beach, eat your Christmas dinner outside in the sunshine, and even enjoy a swim in the pool or in the sea before you open your presents.
Because of the warmer climate, you’ll also find that the Christmas decorations are a little different too: in Marbella tinsel is replaced with bright red poinsettia flowers on pavements, roundabouts and in hanging baskets to bring Christmas joy and celebrate a city in full bloom. Another unusual twist to the traditional Christmas decorations comes from the city’s most famous square, the Plaza de Los Naranjo, where the orange trees are laden with fruit, which means the whole square is bursting with extra colour.
If you’re spending Christmas on the Costa del Sol with children then why not visit the Malaga Children’s Fair? Hosted in the Malaga conference centre from the 26th of December to the 4th of January, the event includes rides, ice skating, mini golf, rock climbing, sip line, arts and crafts, bouncy castles, story time, theatre and more. Kids between 4 and 12 years old pay 8€ for the day, adults pay 4€ and under 3s are free. If you Buy your tickets online then you'll receive excellent discounts on your tickets, making it an even more affordable day out.
Turning on the Christmas Lights
Finally, it just wouldn’t feel like Christmas without seeing some Christmas lights. These twinkling lights inject magic and Christmas spirit into communities, and watching them being switched on is a Christmas highlight for many families. The best Christmas lights on the Costa del Sol are considered to be the lights in Malaga.
This year, the Christmas lights will be switched on on 30th November, and it is a spectacle not to be missed. The display includes up to 600,000 white lights and at 6.30pm, 8pm and 9.30pm every day the lights dance in unison in a choreographed light and sound show. It really is a magical experience. To make the experience feel even more magical, this year there will be snow canons in the main squares of the city. Meaning you can enjoy a Christmas snow storm whilst still wearing your shorts and t shirts!
The Christmas lights in Malaga are so beautiful that visitors come from all over Europe to enjoy them. If you’re living or staying in the region, you’d be crazy not to check them out.
Will you be staying in Malaga this Christmas? Are you thinking of investing in a Marbella property of your own? Why not get in touch with our local property experts and let them help you find the perfect property of your dreams. Just like Santa, they’ll find you everything you’ve been looking for!