Christmas in Spain, and particularly in Marbella, feels and looks somewhat different to the festive period in more northerly parts of Europe. This is largely due to the mild weather and the presence of sunshine and longer daylight hours. But in many other ways it is similar, if just different enough to ensure that you know you are in Spain and not in Britain, for example.
Shopping is just as popular an activity here as it is elsewhere during the Christmas period. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas in Marbella without a visit to the El Corte Inglés department store in Puerto Banús. Here you’ll find an assortment of ideas for gifts to suit every taste and age, plus the staff are experts in the art of gift wrapping, which is a real bonus.
La Cañada is Marbella’s main shopping mall and during the festive season its decorations, as well as its activities for children, make it an ideal place to shop when you want all the stores under one roof.
And then there are the downtown boutiques and specialist shops, as well as the Christmas markets, which are a very popular seasonal feature in these parts. At these, you’ll find plenty of handmade products, especially in jewellery, knitwear, pottery and candles.
Whilst Marbella’s decorations are always lovely, many people make the journey to Málaga, because the Christmas lights there are truly spectacular, and this year a new winter forest design is in the offering. However, you’ll also find lights in every small town in the area, and most have a public ‘Belen’ or nativity scene, which is always worth a visit. It all plays out to Spanish Christmas carols, which you may not recognise at first, but they will soon become familiar tunes.
One of the things that is different to the UK in particular is that the highlight of the Spanish Christmas celebrations is on the evening of the 24th December. Work stops on that day at around 14hrs, as people make their way home for the year’s main family celebration. If you are thinking of going out for a dinner on Christmas Eve, do remember that the Spanish restaurants will be closed. And, on the 25th December, depending on what day it falls upon, shops will be open again, which is another surprise, and very useful for those last minute things you’ve forgotten.
Christmas also lasts longer in Spain as it officially carries on through to the Three Kings celebration on 6th January, when the Magi visit the streets of Marbella and throw sweets to the waiting children.
There are many other aspects of a Spanish Christmas that will be a novelty for newcomers, including the special seasonal dishes, but whilst a Spanish Christmas may be different to what you grew up with, it is, as everywhere else, the season of goodwill to all our neighbours, friends and family.