Christmas in Spain is more animated and inspiring than any other countries since there many legends in association with the birth of Jesus Christ, those are perhaps unheard of in the other parts of the world. One such legend says that a cow at the time of the Nativity breathed on the infant Jesus to provide him warmth and thus cows are much revered in the country. A tradition in Spain says that the three wise men from the east visited Jesus Christ on January 16 and thus on this day the children expects the threesome to visit them with gifts.
Usually every house in Spain has a manger, which will be displayed during the Christmas with decorations and the figures memorising the characters present during the holy birth. The elders used to gather around the manger a week prior to the Christmas and sing accompanied by the instruments played by the children of the house. Christmas in Spain is celebrated in a highly religious mood despite of a huge commercial ambiance. The Christmas stars are usually lit in every place by this time. By the end of the second week, Christmas trees made in every home in addition to the artificial and delicate Nativity scene designed in the background of villages and landscapes creating an ambiance of the surroundings of the holy birth. These nativity scenes are known in the Spanish language by the name Belenes.
Christmas in Spain starts on December 8, which is the day of the Immaculate Conception held in reverence of the Virgin Mary, who is the patron saint of Spain. This feast is observed every year in front of the great Gothic Cathedral in Seville. A ritualistic dance ceremony called the ‘dance of six’, (los Seises in Spanish) is conducted as part of this feast. The Christmas Eve is known by the name Nochebuena, which means ‘the good night’ in the Spanish language. On 6th January, which is the feast of Epiphany, children in Spain receive gift as in the same European traditions.
A curious belief is that the three wise men every year travels through the rustic ways of Spain distributing gifts and re-enacting the centuries old incident. The children used to put single shoes on the windowsills, so that while passing the house, any of the wise men can put a gift within the shoes for the children. In return, the children used to fill in with the shoes with straw, carrots and barley for the horses of the wise men. Among the threesome, the Ethiopian king Balthazar is most revered in the country and the children usually expect gifts from him. After one month long celebrations in connection with Christmas in Spain, spanning from December 8 to January 6, the offices and schools are open on January 7. On this day, the children go to school and the elders to work place in waiting of yet another Christmas next time.