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HOT Tradtions - Christmas on the Coast

Christmas and New Year in southern Spain boasts time-honoured local traditions or allows you to celebrate the festive season just as you would back home, or better still enjoy a fusion of the two... prepare for your best yuletide yet!...

In Mediterranean Spain, while you soak up the winter sun, play a leisurely round of golf, or sit back and enjoy the cloudless skies and calm sparkling sea, the festive season has a habit of sneaking up on you, quite literally, out of the blue.

Two national holidays — Constitution Day on 6 December, and the Immaculate Conception just two days later — herald the start of the month-long party season. Towns and villages and department stores and boutiques across Spain turn on their Christmas lights, and a visit to Málaga city — with its captivating illuminations transforming the park into a magical winter wonderland, together with excellent shopping —is a must.

The Costa del Sol's social calendar is a flurry of events and celebrations, with concerts, recitals, carol services, children's theatre, charity galas, Christmas fairs and bazaars, polo and golf tournaments and even a traditional pantomime.

Cribs and nativity scenes (Belenes) are an integral part of Christmas in Spain. Virtually every home will have one, while towns and villages have elaborate, intricately designed displays, often with live performers taking the starring roles. And if you're dreaming of a white Christmas... on the infinitely multifaceted Coast, that's another option, too.

One of only a handful of places around the world to possess such an abundance of riches, the proximity of the Sierra Nevada, home to Europe's southernmost ski resort of Pradollano — only a two hours' drive away — means you can enjoy the ultimate leisure experience: A morning of fun and thrills on the snowy slopes, followed by a sunny afternoon on the beach. With 70 kilometres of pistes ranging from gentle nursey slopes to the 3,400 metre Olympic Black Run, even if Mother Nature doesn't co-operate, an extensive network of snow cannons guarantees good skiing from December to April. Thousands of people head to Pradollano over the Christ and New Year period, so it's best to book in advance.

Christmas Eve is probably the quietest and definitely the most significant night of the year throughout Spain. All shops and businesses close early to allow staff to join their families for a celebratory dinner at home. Later, the more devout members of the family are likely to attend Midnight Mass (La Misa del Gallo), while their younger relations head for the discotheque or piano bar to party 'til dawn.

Christmas Day is also intrinsically a family occasion and, while Santa Claus is not a traditional feature, the growing multicultural influence on the Coast means that an increasing number of lucky children receive presents both from Papa Noel, as well as the Three Kings on Epiphany.

Following hard on the heels of Navidad, 28 December is Innocents' Day (Dia de los Santos lnocentes), Spain's equivalent of April Fools' Day. And at Venta San Cayetano in Puerto de la Torre — on the MA413 between Malaga and Almogia — the annual Fiesta Mayor de Verdiales is a uniquely fascinating day of celebration dedicated to the ancient and rural form of flamenco originating in the region's olive-growing districts. Attracting thousands of visitors each year, the entertainment is provided by groups of musicians (pandas), playing the guitar, violin, castanets, lute and tambourine, while their flamboyant headgear of flowers, mirrors, bells, beads and ribbons is reminiscent of England's morris dancers.

Next up, New Year's Eve, and if you'd like to celebrate in style at the plethora of first-class hotels and chic eateries, then you'll need to reserve your table well in advance. If you prefer something less formal, then head for the main square in the nearest town or village and revel in the fun. But wherever you happen to be, it's mandatory to eat the legendary twelve grapes — swallowing each one in unison with the chimes — to guarantee a prosperous New Year!

And so to the finale. On the evening of 5 January, Los Reyes Magos (the Three Wise Men) visit every town and village in a spectacular procession, during which they throw sweets and candies to waiting children. Last-minute shoppers fill the streets until midnight, and the protracted festive season comes to a climactic end on 6 January — a public holiday — when families and friends exchange their gifts. What you haven't had time to fit in this season... you can look forward to next year!

See the local press, or ask at your nearest tourist information office for details of special events. Official Sierra Nevada Website:
Information, Reservations & Weather Reports: Tel: (+34) 958 249 119
Please note: Every effort was made to check the accuracy of the information contained within our archived HOT Properties Magazine articles at the time of originally going to press, but may well have been superseded over the ensuing years. They are now made available as historical archival information only. The said information has not been reviewed subsequently for present day accuracy nor has it been updated and we expressly disclaim any duty or obligation to do so. VIVA cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions, nor for the authenticity of any claims or statements made by third parties. We therefore strongly recommend that readers of these archived articles make their own thorough checks before entering into any kind of transaction. Prices were correct at the time of publication but may now vary due to circumstances beyond our control. The views and opinions of editorial contributors do not necessarily reflect those of VIVA .

HOT Properties Magazine Issue 54 - 2005

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