Spaniards have a series of unique Christmas traditions that differ from those to which you are probably accustomed. From giant nativity scenes to logs that “poo” sweets. Today we are showing some Spanish Christmas traditions that you should know.

Everything starts with el Gordo

We can say that the kick-off of the festivities is given by the Christmas Lottery. The amounts that can be won are so huge, that it has been dubbed as “El Gordo” (The fat one) and almost everyone buys a ticket. It is celebrated every year since 1812, and the winning numbers are sung by schoolchildren.

Nativity scene

One of the main traditions is the nativity scene, a representation of the birth of baby Jesus. However, beyond a stable with animals and figures, Spanish nativity scenes can be huge, with many houses, farms and rivers. Traditionally they are put up at homes two weeks before Christmas day but the biggest ones are placed in shop windows or in city squares, where they can even be with real people!

Caga Tió

Shortly before Christmas in Catalonia, it is customary for Tió to arrive in houses where there are children, a character from the Catalan collective imagination with a smiling face, a tree log body, with a barretina on (a traditional Catalan hat) and two legs. The children of the house must take care of feeding it during this time, by leaving food for it, which mysteriously disappears when they are not there. “It’s been eaten by Tió de Nadal!” The more generous they are with what they give it, the better, it seems, this curious friend will behave. Then, on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, they hit the log with a stick, singing a special song to ask it to “poo” all kinds of sweets.

The three Wise Men

It is the three Wise Men (Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar) who bring children their gifts in Spain, not Santa Claus (although now it is also becoming more popular), and on January 6, not on Christmas day. On the night of January 5, the Wise Men parade through the towns all over the country with their entourage of helpers, animals and elaborate floats, throwing sweets for the children. When the children return home, they leave their shoes for the Wise Men to fill them with gifts at night.