Navidad comes from “natividad” which means nativity.
Christmas in Spain is not as commercialised as in England and the build up does not start until much later (usually mid December). It is still a very important religious festivity and the most important aspect is to get together with the family and going to church.

It is not traditional to exchange gifts on Christmas Day but this is changing. The correct word for a Xmas card is “tarjeta de Navidad”. Cards are only sent to close family members. And the greeting usually written inside is “Feliz Navidad” or “Felices Pascuas”. Pascua means literally Easter, but it has become the accepted word for any religious festivity. “Felices fiestas” is like saying “season’s greetings”.

Christmas trees are as popular as in the Uk, and the real ones are still very much appreciated. They are usually sold in Xmas markets along with other decorations and the “belen” (nativity scene). Most families have a “belen” on display in their home. There is usually some public displays in every town, city and village. And inside most churches too.

Christmas Eve is “la nochebuena” and it is traditional to have a meal with the family at dinner time and it is still very popular to go to Midnight Mass “la misa del gallo”. The most beautiful of these candlelight services is held at the monastery of Montserrat, high in the mountain near Barcelona, which is highlighted by a boy's choir describes as performing the Mass in "one pure voice."

On Christmas day the most important event is the family meal. It used to be stuffed turkey, but these days you could have any other roast. After the meal the typical Spanish Christmas sweets are served to accompany the coffee.   The most popular one is “turron” which is a nougat-like sweet made with almonds and honey. This is the original variety that was introduced by the Arabs during the Moorish occupation. These days you can buy them in all sort of flavours,...