It’s like a not written rule, everyone still get too dazed and excited as soon as the month of December comes with all the Holidays and main of them is Christmas. Everything is perceived in a different way and became more fascinating. Well, Madrid makes no exception to this rule. The city gets completely transformed during the holidays and you can really breathe and feel the Christmas spirit. Usually, this “only once a year” atmosphere in the city kicks off with the opening of its Christmas market in Plaza Mayor, although other Christmas-related activities takes place all over Madrid. You’ll find nativity scenes, the famous three Kings procession, shopping, concerts, special food and the unavoidable light shows.
So as a traveler, how can you join in the festivities? Walk at night along the Gran Vía to see the special light displays is a good starting point, ice skating at Retiro Park, have a late night drink at the Mercado de San Antón (open until 12 a.m.), visit the various nativity scenes at the Royal Palace and Almudena Cathedral and eat the 12 grapes, one grape at a time, (making a wish) with each stroke of midnight in Puerta del Sol. Beyond that, one of the essential activities associated with Christmas is participating to the “Lotería de Navidad”. Almost 75 percent of the population participates in this 200-year-old grand lottery. According to the rumors, the most gambled number of this year (for some remote reason) is 14 and we are pretty sure that everyone in Spain will be in front of the TV on the day of the drawing.
These celebrations manage to spread to every corner of the city as millions of foreigners and locals alike come together to celebrate one of the most wonderful and joyous times of the year with great food and great drinks, because we all know that, Christmas is definitely a time for food. Spaniards usually eat sea food on Christmas Eve and on New Year’s. The reason of this menu originates in the idea of celebrating with an expensive and unconventional meal. Normally a good holyday’s season menu includes crab, lobster and oysters. If in other countries after food people eat the desserts, in Spain people take “turrones” (nougat) and “mazapanes” (marzipan) for dessert. The Spanish nougat is not like the one known in America, UK or Eastern Europe. This is made with almonds, honey and sugar. There is a very impressible variety of nougat in Spain, but the most popular are: Jijona and Alicante. Jijona or Xixona nougat is soft made out of almond’s paste and honey. Alicante nougat is crunchy and made of whole almonds and nougat candy. There are also different flavors of nougat with chocolate, toffee, coffee, yogurt, fruits and liquors.
Well beyond all the advice, the most important, just try to have fun and celebrate at your best.