Christmas is celebrates in Spain with focus on the Three Kings, or los Reyes Magos, the ones who, on Jan. 6, bring presents for all of the children. Because of Christmas commercialization in the West, however, some families now celebrate the traditional holiday on Dec. 25.
During Christmastime, sweets are a staple in Spain. El turrón, or nougat, is essential and sold in two different forms. Duro, which is hard nougat with whole almonds in a paste of sugar, honey and egg white, and blando, which is soft with the ingredients ground together, are two popular treats. Las figuras de mazapán, or marzipan figurines are also popular and served with los polvorones, soft crumbly cakes made from lard, flour and cinnamon. The main holiday meal takes place on Christmas Eve, or la Nochebuena. A main dish of meat or seafood, such as lamb, cod or shellfish, is always served.
Holiday celebrations start on Dec. 22, and go until Jan. 6, the night of the big lottery. In Spain, there is a world-renowned holiday lottery, known as El Gordo, or The Fat One. Numbered tickets in a giant drum are matched to balls with millionaire prizes in a smaller drum. The top prizes are announced on television and radio all over the country.