The holiday season in Spain is quite different to that of other countries. The main reason is that Christmas has traditionally been a minor family celebration. Spaniards have always considered the coming of Los Reyes Magos (the Three Kings – on January 6th), as the major holiday and the time to shower children with gifts. So whereas in most Western countries the season culminates between December 25th and 31st to fade after that, in Spain it goes crescendo until January 6th.
Only recently, more families have started to celebrate Christmas because of pragmatic reasons linked to the scholar calendar: schools tend to reopen a day or two after Los Reyes and that gives little time for the children to enjoy their toys and gifts!
The Spanish holiday season starts in earnest on December 22nd when the children of San Idelfonso school sing the results of the Spanish Christmas lottery. This 200-year-old tradition is the real kick-off to the festivities and keeps the country on hold for a few hours until El Gordo, the main lottery prize, is announced. The winners celebrate with Cava on the front page of all newspapers and TV channels. The rest are thankful for their health, hoping to have another shot at it the following year, and are happy that the next big lottery draw (El Niño) is coming soon on January 6th.
This year, El Gordo was mostly sold in the province of Madrid. La Cañada in Marbella sold parts of the fifth prize earning 50,000 euros per full lottery ticket. Luck anyone?