Every household looks brighter and more cheerful during Christmas, and Spanish homes are no different. Read on to take a little peek into what a house in Spain might look like during the festive season.
The festive season is a brilliant opportunity to spice up the decoration in your home, even if it’s only for a few weeks; ideal to try and make it look a little bigger, with more room for the visitors. Naturally, each country has its own idiosyncrasies, and although Spain adopted a few seemingly Anglo-Saxon ornaments, they still keep their old traditions when it comes to decorating their home for Christmas.
What Christmas looks like in a Spanish household
Generally speaking, most European homes will have similar decorations for Christmas; however, Spanish people use a few items to decorate their household that maybe you’ve never considered. Discover some of them with AEDAS Homes, and perhaps the Iberian style can give you an idea that will give a different twist to your ornaments this year.
Christmas is Spain: the tree
The tall, green trees that now decorate our homes each winter are the most widely recognised symbol to represent Christmas around the world. For centuries, European and North African cultures have been using evergreens as decorations; however, the origin of the modern Christmas tree began with German Christians during the 16th century. From there it spread to most European countries, among them Spain, where the custom was adopted, and where most households now sport a colourful tree to celebrate.
Baby Jesus in the manger
We have all seen a Nativity play or a big manger scene in outdoor settings or shopping centres, however, Spanish people have smaller versions they use to decorate their home. They include the traditional characters from the Bible —Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the Three Wise Men, the angel, the shepherds, etc.— but also other original additions, such as tradesmen, Roman soldiers, and in some places, a man pooping. That last one doesn’t seem very festive, but it’s a very popular figure in Catalonia, Valencia and neighbouring areas.
Christmas sweets and instruments
Another custom we see in Spain during the festive season is the use of food or instruments as decorations. Or sort of, anyway, they seem to always be lying around for everyone to see during the holidays.
Everyone likes Christmas cakes and sweet snacks, and in Spain they have enough of those for a whole other post. Using food to garnish a table is probably universal, and it is definitely something that you’ll see if you go into a Spanish home during Christmas: a tray of assorted marzipan, turrón (an almond-based confection), or polvorones (a crumbly sort of shortbread), just to mention a few.
Other items you will probably find in Spanish homes are percussion instruments that typically accompany Spanish Christmas carols, known there as villancicos. The most common examples would be a tambourine and the traditional zambomba, a curious instrument that uses friction to make sound.
Very much aligned with the tone set by the Christmas tree, many Spanish people use items typically found in forests to decorate their home. Although the tradition of using mistletoe to adorn the household (and maybe steal a kiss or two) does not exist in Spain, they do make artistic ornaments tying dried twigs and branches together and adding pinecones, holly or dried moss. These then go to the centre of the table, the mantlepiece or hanging from the door. Some of these forest elements also make the perfect background for the manger scene we mentioned earlier.
The Three Wise Men
Not strictly a decoration, but rather an inevitability, on the eve of the sixth of January, Spanish children will line up their shoes and place some milk or snacks in the living room for the Three Wise Men and their camels. They will fill the shoes with presents for the youngsters who are well behaved, and coal for those who are not; then they will enjoy the refreshment set out for them before they leave.
We hope you enjoyed these examples, and from AEDAS Homes we want to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!