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Catholic holidays in Spain

6th of January - The Day of the Kings

On the 6th of January, the Christian world celebrates the Epiphany. In Catholic European countries, including Spain, this holiday is dedicated to the adoration of the Magi of the infant Jesus. Three pagan Magi, also known as the Three Kings, - Gaspar, Malchior, and Balthazar - come to bow to newborn Jesus in Bethlehem and to bring him gifts - gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

In Spain this holiday is called simply The Day of the Kings (DГ­a de los Tres Reyes Magos). It is the crown of the Christmas festivities and is a much beloved holiday, especially by Spanish children, because everything that takes place this day is done for their sake.

The holiday begins on January the 5th, when festive processions march along the streets of all cities and towns in the country. Each procession is closed by the carriage with Three Kings themselves, who give out gifts and sweets to children. In the evening, before going to bed, children leave wine, fruits, milk and cookies for the Kings under the Christmas thee. They also leave some water for the Kings' camels. Then, the best pair of their shoes is polished, stuffed with straw and put out of the door. In the morning, on January the 6th, children find gifts from the Magi in their shoes. If a child misbehaved in the old year, he or she is likely to find coal instead of sweets there! But nowadays it is not common – even the "coal" will probably taste sweet and delicious.

The traditional food for this day is roscГіn, a sweetened round bread sprinkled with candied fruits. The bread is baked with a tiny toy figure of baby Jesus inside, and whoever gets the toy in his or her piece of bread will have good luck for the whole year to come. Parents usually make sure that it is the child who gets this lucky piece.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=148

March-April - Easter

Easter is the main Christian holiday, in preparation for which and during which believers remember the last days of Jesus Christ, his crucifixion, death and resurrection. Easter Day concludes the Holy Week (La Semana Santa), whose celebrations and festivities are often implied when referring to Easter in general. Many especially grand masses take place during the Holy Week.

The meaning of select holidays during La Semana Santa:
Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) - the first day of the Holy Week, when Jesus entered Jerusalem,
Maundy Thursday (Jueves Santo) - the day of communion and commemoration of Jesus' Last Supper with his apostles,
Good Friday (Viernes Santo) - the crucifixion of Jesus, his death and burial,
Holy Saturday (SГЎbado Santo) - the commemoration of Jesus in the tomb,
Easter Sunday (Domingo de ResurrecciГіn) - the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Many Spanish regions and given towns have their own traditions when it comes to Easter celebrations. For example, in Barcelona you can listen to an open sermon that takes place in front of the main cathedral at 3 pm - the sermon is lead by one of the higher members of clergy and is devoted to sayings of Jesus Christ uttered on the cross - the Seven Last Words from the Cross.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=325

March-April - Easter Monday

The Monday following Easter Sunday (Dilluns de Pasqua Florida in Catalan) is a national holiday and a day off for workers. In Catholic countries, it is customary to bless one's neighbours and loved ones, one's home and food with holy water that had been sanctified during Easter Mass the day before.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=222

May-June - the day after Pentecost Sunday

Seven weeks after Easter the Catholics celebrate Pentecost, the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit to the apostles, which had been promised to them by Jesus before his ascension. The descent of the Holy Spirit symbolizes the Holy Trinity of God: "the Father creates the world, the Son atones for people's sins to save them from the Devil, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies the world through the creation of the Church".

In the Roman Catholic calendar the holiday of Pentecost has the utmost status of a "festival". The Pentecost Monday, or Whit Monday (Dilluns de Pasqua Granda in Catalan) is not a national holiday, but following the decision of the regional authorities it is a public holiday in Catalonia.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=185

15th of August - The Assumption of Mary

Assumption of Mary (La AsunciГіn in Spanish or L'AssumpciГі in Catalan) is a very important Christian holiday that has high significance for Spain as well. The holiday is devoted to the passing away of Virgin Mary. According to the legend, on the 15th of August, the apostles who were busy preaching all over the world, miraculously found themselves in Jerusalem to bid farewell to Mary and to bury her. The holiday is celebrated by Christians since the year 582.

In Spain it is also known at the August Holy Virgin day (Virgen de Agosto).On the eve and on the day of the celebration, on August 14th and 15th, church masses and religious processions take place. In many Spanish cities liturgical dramas are performed – these mystery plays dramatize the internment of Mary. The most famous performances that commemorate the Assumption of Mary have been played for over 7 centuries in the city of Elx in the Alicante province.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=151

1st of November - Solemnity of All Saints

On November 1st the Catholics celebrate All Saints' Day (DГ­a de Todos Los Santos). According to the Roman Catholic Church canon, all believers must attend mass on this day. The next day, November 2nd, is the Day of the Dead (DГ­a de Muertos), when it is customary to visit graves of passed away relatives and loved ones.

The first remembrance service of all saints, known and unknown, took place in the 8th century, thanks to Pope Gregory III. In the 9th century Pope Gregory IV made the 1st of November a holiday for all Catholics.

Because Catalans also celebrate CastaГ±ada (Castanyada) between November 1st and 11th, the traditional fare for the All Saints' Day and the Day of the Dead in Catalonia is chestnuts, baked sweet potatoes and traditional sweets, panellets.

The day before All Saints' Day, October 31th, is Halloween, a beloved holiday in many countries that had been tied to the All Saints' Day historically, but nowadays can hardly be called religious.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=323

8th of December - Feast of the Immaculate Conception

The Immaculate Conception (La Inmaculada ConcepciГіn in Spanish or La Immaculada ConcepciГі in Catalan), which is celebrated all over the Catholic world on the 8th of December, is one of the main holidays devoted to Virgin Mary. Mary is the patron saint of Spain, and this day in the country is a widely celebrated national holiday.

According to the Catholic dogma of 1854, the Virgin Mary was conceived by ordinary humans, but the original sin had been lifted from her by the Divine spirit at the moment of conception. This day should not be confused with the immaculate conception of Jesus Christ.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=183

25th of December - Christmas

Christmas (La Navidad in Spanish, Nadal in Catalan) is perhaps the people's favourite among Catholic holidays, and the most highly anticipated one. Christmas in Spain is traditionally a very family-oriented holiday, and gift exchange and festive dinners on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day form an obligatory part of the festive program.

Christmas is preceded by Christmas lent - Advent, which begins four Sundays prior to the 25th of December and may, therefore, continue for at least 21 days and up to 28 days. Christmas Eve on December 24th in Spain is called La Nochebuena.

In preparation for Christmas, Catalan cities and towns put up street Nativity scenes (pessebres). In Barcelona, for example, a big scene makes an appearance right in front of Palau Generalitat de Catalunya. Miniature Nativity scenes are acted out in people's homes as well; many stores sell all the necessary props and costumes. Many Catalan towns also act out plays devoted to Christmas, called pastorets.

One of the favourite characters of Catalan Christmas tradition is TiГі de Nadal, literally "The Christmas Log", which is just a log of wood with a painted face and a red Catalan hat. TiГі de Nadal is the Catalan Santa Claus who gives presents to children on December 25th. Traditionally, TiГі de Nadal is taken home on December 8, covered by a warm blanket and fed food leftovers and pieces of bread up until Nochebuena, when the whole family is supposed to hit TiГі de Nadal with sticks while singing a special song, after which TiГі defecates presents for the family. For this reason, this curious character is also known as CagatiГі.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=324

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26th of December - Sant Esteve (Boxing Day)

The 26th of December, the day after Christmas, has many different names in different parts of the world. Boxing Day, Saint Stephen Day, Christmas II, The Second Christmas, Day of Good Will are just several of many. In Catalonia, Boxing Day is known as Sant Esteve - it is a public holiday not only in the region, but in the rest of Spain as well. Traditionally it is spent at home with family, around the festive table. An important part of Sant Esteve, especially for children, is exchanging of presents, which families usually do in the morning.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=236

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