7 Strange Christmas Traditions in Spain

Weird Things that Happen in Spain at Christmas

The Spanish are famous for their bizarre festivals. Here are just a few weird traditions you might come across at Christmas time in Spain.

  • 01 of 07


    A caganer, the slight gross addition to every nativity scene in Barcelona
    Ajuntament Barcelona/Creative Commons

    A Catalonia specialty, the caganer is a little porcelain gnome-like figure with his trousers down who is seen defecating somewhere in the nativity scene. Children enjoy looking for the little guy, who is usually hidden among the more traditional items. Surprisingly, the caganer wasn't invented by the post-South Park generation: he's been offering his unique presents to the nativity scene since at least the middle of the 18th or 19th century, depending on who you believe.

  • 02 of 07

    Caga Tió

    Caga Tios in Barcelona, Spain
    Valerie Hinojosa/Creative Commons

    Caga Tio is a log painted with a smiley face who is cared for from El Dia de Inmaculada (December 8) until Christmas. On Christmas Day or Christmas Eve (it varies), the children beat the log (and throw him into the fire) singing songs enticing it to 'shit some presents'. Also particular to the Catalonia region, which clearly didn't think that one scatological Christmas tradition was enough.


  • 03 of 07

    Multiple New Year's Eves

    Advert for New Year's Eve in August in Berchules
    Ismael Valero/Creative Commons

    Rock band Wizard may well have wished it could be Christmas every day, but in Spain it seems to be multiple New Year's Eve that they long for. They already have six occasions to celebrate it, with the earliest (or latest) taking place in August!

  • 04 of 07

    Red Underwear Running

    This is not the event in Spain, but it probably looks similar!
    Hotlanta Voyeur/Creative Commons

    In the village of La Font de la Figuera near Valencia, the local folk celebrate the arrival of a new year by stripping down to their underwear and running through the streets. One important point if you are going to join in next year - the underwear must be red.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Day of the Innocents

    A Vodafone-sponsored version of the gag
    Dick O'Brien/Creative Commons

    The Day of the Innocents is Spain's version of April Fools Day, only it takes place on December 28. In days gone by, children used to go from door to door asking for sweets, much like our Halloween. Bakers used to put salt in their cakes on this day to wind up the children.

    Most of this has now given way to more mundane activities, like sticking paper cut-outs to ​people's backs.

  • 06 of 07

    Flour Throwing at the Els Enfarinats Festival

    The aftermath of the flower battle of Els Enfarinats
    bassetaibi/Creative Commons

    The Day of the Innocents goes that bit more absurd in Ibi, Valencia, where the inhabitants throw flour at each other for reasons that may have been lost to the mists of time.

    The Spanish love throwing things at each other - read here about other Throwing Festivals in Spain.

  • 07 of 07

    Grape Eating at the Stroke of Midnight

    12 grapes, ready for the stroke of midnight
    Chris Oakley/Creative Commons

    If you're out in a public place in Spain on New Year's Eve, you will notice that everyone around you is carrying a handful of grapes. On the stroke of midnight, everyone will gobble them down - one for each gong of the bells. For each grape you get down, you will have a month's good luck in the coming year, but Spain's not the only country that has a food tradition for New Year's luck!