Like all other places in the world, New Year is widely celebrated in Spain with great zeal and enthusiasm. It is celebrated there as “Nochevieja” whose literal meaning is “old night” and lots of Spanish traditions are associated with it.
Most of the Spanish like to spend the New Year eve and the New Year day with their family members and close friends. It is also a common sight among the youngsters as well. There is a very interesting tradition followed among the Spanish during the New Year-eating 12 grapes. These grapes are eaten at every stroke of the clock as it strikes 12 on the New Year eve.
Each grape is meant for each of the 12 months and traditionally it is believed that eating grapes at the beginning of the year brings good luck and prosperity for all 12 months. It was first started by the King of Spain and is still widely followed among the conservative Spanish families. People who gather at the world famous New Year event held at, Puerta del Sol in Madrid before the countdown begins, also follow the traditions.
New year celebrations for the Spaniards have no meaning if it is not spent with family. Elders in the home traditionally prepare a special round ring shaped cake which is cut exactly at 12’o clock in the presence of all family members and friends. The round ring shape is given as it symbolizes good luck. The striking feature of the cake is that the cook, while preparing it, puts some small gifts and good luck charms inside it. While eating the cake, whoever gets these goodies, is sure to have a good luck throughout the year.
El Gordo is the biggest lottery in the world. The name El Gordo means "The Fat One." The Spanish Christmas Lottery is called "el Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad" or just "Lotería de Navidad" in Spanish. It is the biggest lottery in the world in terms of overall prize money payouts, hence the name "El Gordo" lottery, which translates as the Fat One or Fatty. El Gordo is actually the nickname of the first prize winning ticket number.
This huge lottery is drawn on 22nd December every year and the whole of Spain watches on TV. In 2014 El Gordo celebrates its 202nd anniversary. The lottery drawing ceremony is at Teatro Real de Madrid in Madrid, Spain and is broadcast live on Spanish TV channel "La 1" and on the Internet on the RTVE.es website from 8am. The lottery draw starts at 9am.
2011 was called the "fattest" El Gordo in history so far called "El Gorda más gorda de la historia." The biggest winning number in 2011 paid out 4 million euros. And that figure stayed the same in 2012 and now in 2013. In 2013 the biggest winning number also pays 4 million euros. The total prize amount in 2013 will be €2.240.000.00 - over 2.2 billion euros that can be won by just over 15,000 winning numbers. Read how the ticket system works further down this page. Buena Suerte - Bon Sort - Good Luck!
South America inherited Christianity from its European colonizers, but each country has its own profane/sacred approach to it. Kids reenact the birth of Jesus at schools and churches celebrate Mass, but there’s also dancing, fires, and chants that very much echo pagan traditions.
The Brazilian countryside celebration of Folia de Reis happens between Christmas Eve and early January. It’s a tradition inherited from the Portuguese, honoring the three wise men who visited baby Jesus when he was born. It happens in all five Brazilian regions and, although each city and village possesses its own traditions, there’s always a choir, dancing clowns, a ceremony master, a trio representing the magi, and a flag-man carrying the group banner.
In the city of La Plata (one hour from Buenos Aires), another tradition with mixed origins was created. Locals spend a lot of time building huge paper and cardboard dolls that they set on fire on New Years. People compete to have the best, the funniest, the most controversial paper puppets — it can get very political too, with representations pro and against governments.
Nativity scenesNativity scenes are very common, on the streets and inside houses — with both great and horrible results, of course. In Quito, Ecuador, for instance, there are pesebre competitions and a giant nativity scene is held over the Panecillo. In small cities all over Brazil, the central praça will have its version set inside a bandstand, often created by children (sometimes using recycled material).
“Santa should wear flip flops.” Poor crazy uncle, sweating inside his heavy red Christmas suit. It’s high summer in South America, and very hot. Many cities will host festivities on the streets, and people like to enjoy the fireworks, sing villancicos, and host neighborhood parties after midnight. December 25 and Jan 1 are often spent at the houses of those with swimming pools.
Nativity scenes are very common, on the streets and inside houses — with both great and horrible results, of course. In Quito, Ecuador, for instance, there are pesebre competitions and a giant nativity scene is held over the Panecillo. In small cities all over Brazil, the central praça will have its version set inside a bandstand, often created by children (sometimes using recycled material).
The Missa do Galo or Misa de Gallo is a traditional Christmas Mass celebrated in all Catholic countries, but it becomes a huge event in South America. It starts right after Christmas Eve dinner, and it’s not uncommon for Catholic families to watch it together on television. The Portuguese/Spanish name derives from the fact that the Mass is so long that people don’t get home until the roosters are crowing. There’s candle lighting, chanting, and after Mass it’s time to put baby Jesus in the nativity scene.