Expressions related to Christmas in Spain¡Feliz Navidad (Merry Christmas!) everyone! By the time you read this, you will have celebrated Christmas with your family and friends. If you thought that was going to leave you alone these days, you were totally wrong.

People say that Spain is different and we agree, but at Christmas time, that’s obvious. Whereas other countries only celebrate Christmas Day, in Spain we have many dates to mark in our calendar. We’d like to celebrate this festivity with you bringing here some traditions and expressions related to them.

1. December 22nd: ¡Te ha tocado el gordo!

On the 22nd of December we can enjoy the Cristmas Lottery Draw. You might wonder why a lottery draw is important at Christmas. The answer is easy. We don’t only buy tickets in order to win the top prize (el gordo), but we share our own tickets with our relatives or friends, and they do the same with us. In this way, a lot of people in Spain can win the lottery this day. Eventually, the expression “tocar el gordo” was used when a person has a stroke of luck.

¿Estás aprendiendo español en Te ha tocado el gordo.

2. December 24th: ¡Se armó el belén!

La Nochebuena (Christmas’ Eve) is probably the most important dinner of the year for a family, and the most dangerous, maybe. We meet our suegros (parents in law), our cuñados (brothers and sisters in law), our tíos (aunts and uncles)… all mixed up, and this can be a bomb! In every house there is un belén, that is some figurines from the nativity scene. You might think that “armarse el belén, must have a positive meaning; however, that’s not true. When Jesus and his family arrived Bethlehem, they found a chaotic place, where foreign people had to go there to register, following Caesar’s orders. In consequence, “armarse el belén”, means a situation goes crazy (what is very likely to happen in Nochebuena).

Todos bebieron mucho alcohol y al final de la cena se armó el belén.

3. December 31st: ¡Nos van a dar las uvas!

The twelve grapes tradition is well-known all over the world. Spaniards sit down in front of the tv-set and start eating one grape for every stroke of Plaza del Sol’s bell in Madrid. It’s a stressing moment, because if you are late for only one second, you will miss the grapes and you will have a very unlucky year. Due to this situation, the meaning of the expression “darle las uvas a una persona” means “to be late”.

Venga, Ana, date prisa, que nos van a dar las uvas.

4. January 6th: Eres más antiguo que los Reyes Magos

In Spain, the eternal battle between Papa Noel (Santa Claus) and los tres Reyes Magos (the Three Wise Men) has three unquestionable winners: Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar. Although nowadays, more and more families give presents on the 25th of December, the traditional day for the children to receive their toys is still the 6th of January. This tradition is so old, that, if you say “eres más antiguo que los Reyes Magos” to a person, you really mean he or she is a caveman, an old-fashioned person.

¿Tienes que estar en tu casa a las diez de la noche? Tu padre es más antiguo que los Reyes Magos.

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