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Spanish language and costums


What to do and say at Christmas

12.12.08 -

If you are spending your first Christmas in Spain this year - ¡Felicidades! I say this for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s  a word you’ll be using a lot. At the check-out in the supermarket, to teachers and other parents after the end-of-term festivities, to Spanish neighbours when you wave them off to visit their relatives – it’s a catch-all “Happy Christmas!” word which can also mean “Happy birthday”, “Happy name-day”, and “Happy whatever-the-occasion is”.

¡Felicidades! too because spending Christmas in Spain will make for a new experience and extended possibilities for “felicidad” – happiness. Christmas in Spain  goes on for longer. The first big family occasion is when everybody gathers for a special evening meal on Christmas Eve, but then there is another on Christmas Day, another on New Year’s Eve, and more family celebrations on January 5th, when the Three Kings take part, mysteriously and simultaneously, in parades in every town and village. After throwing sweets for the children, they do the rounds in the night to leave bigger gifts, making January 6th another major celebration. Homes will be decorated throughout with both the traditional Nativity Scene and with a Christmas tree.
And then there is the happiness that comes from doing Christmas in Spain the way the Spanish do, and feeling truly at home at this special time of year. Just a few words in Spanish will go a long way to making  you feel an integral part of the festivities, and where better to start than with seasonal wishes?


What to do and say at Christmas
¿Qué hacemos esta Navidad? What shall we do this Christmas?
Nos quedamos en casa We’re staying at home
No quiero pisar el aeropuerto hasta el año que viene I don’t want to go near the airport till next year
Viene toda la familia a cenar en Nochebuena All the family are coming to dinner on Christmas Eve
Los niños, los abuelos, toda la familia política... The children, the grandparents, all the in-laws...
Vamos a ser veinte personas There will be twenty of us
¿Qué le regalamos a mamá? What shall we give mum?
Mi hijo quiere una bici My son wants a bike
Este año vamos a poner un belén This year we’re going to have a Crib
Iremos al concierto de Navidad en la catedral We’ll go to the Christmas concert in the cathedral
Da gusto pasear por las calles de Málaga It’s nice to stroll through the streets of Malaga
Pero las tiendas están vacías. But the shops are empty
A mi casa viene Papa Noel y los Reyes también. Dejan regalos debajo del árbol Father Christmas comes to my house, and the Wise Men too. They leave presents under the tree
Ya he enviado un montón de Christmas I’ve sent loads of Christmas cards already
¡Que te la pases muy bien! Have a lovely time!

Liz Parry's Spanish Phrase Book is available from