Christmas In The Canaries

Many children around Europe will be waiting in anticipation for Christmas Day – 25th December. But here in Fuerte, the local children will be looking forward to the 5th and 6th January instead. But Why?

Christmas in The Canary islands

This is the date that most of us in the UK and Ireland consider to be Christmas Day and for all well-behaved children who have opened up the windows on their advent calendars and counted down the days…. finally it’s here! Christmas! – The day to jump out of bed, run to your overstuffed stockings and check under the tree to see what amazing gifts Santa has managed to wrestle down your chimney. Not in the Canaries! This often seems very strange to people visiting the island for the first time, so here is a little guide to help you navigate your way through all of the Fuerteventura festivities, so you know what to celebrate and when.



 

1st December – Advent Begins

Just like back home in the UK and Ireland, today you get to open the first little door on your Advent calendar and begin the long awaited countdown to Christmas.

8th December – Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception

Being a predominantly Catholic island, this day has significant importance here and is a Holy Day of obligation. According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, 8th December was the day that Jesus’ mother, the Virgin Mary, was conceived without sin. Around this time you will see people putting up lights and decorating Christmas trees. Little Nativity scenes will begin to appear in churches, shop windows and shopping centres (which are usually really intricate and beautifully created) and, of course, the shelves in the supermarkets will be stocked with gift ideas and traditional Christmas fayre such as Polverones and Turron.

nativity scene

24th December- Noche Buena

We know this day as Christmas Eve, but here is it known as Noche Buena or The Good Night. It is a family day, celebrated by gathering for a meal and attending mass. Afterwards there is usually a lot of music and partying, followed by an evening at home with the family, enjoying traditional sweet treats such as the turron or polvorones that you see enticingly wrapped in shiny paper, available in every good shop or supermarket.

sand snowman on the beach

25th December – Navidad

For the ex-pats this is Christmas Day and for the locals it is Navidad. For the ex-pats this is a very special day, if not the most important day of the year. It is a day to get together with the family, exchange gifts, eat far too much traditional festive foods and generally have some family time together, playing games and having fun. Navidad is a similar day for the locals, but it is not usually the day that they exchange gifts and is often a much calmer and sedate affair. Some people will have to work to accommodate the influx of tourists and others will choose to spend time at home with the family. Some will be hosting the festivities or providing the entertainment and others will join in with the festivities arranged by the Ex-pats. But no matter how each person is spending the day, you will hear people greeting each other with ´´Feliz Navidad¨ in the streets, and it is always nice to say it back to them.



 

26th December – St Stephen’s Day or Boxing Day

This is the day that celebrates the feast of St Stephen and whilst many of the Brits will be regretting a night of over indulgence, the patrons of the Irish or Gaelic bars will be enjoying some traditional food accompanied by music, games and more than a few choice tipples.

28th December – El Dia De Los Santos Inocentes

Don´t be surprised if you become the butt of someone’s joke on this day or see people dressed up in strange or macabre masks or costumes. This is the day of the innocents. It is very similar to April Fool’s Day and is celebrated across much of South America and Spain, and is a chance to have some naughty fun.

new year banner

31st December – Fin De Año

Whether you call it New Year´s Eve, Hogmanay or Fin De Año it is the last day of the year and a time to party! Expect lots of music and dancing accompanied by fireworks and lots of merriment and good cheer.

1st January – Año Nuevo

This is the first day of the New Year, a bank holiday and time to catch up with friends and family.

kings in fuerteventura

5th January – Kings & Camels

This is the day the local children have been waiting for as the Kings are coming! Children will line the streets with their Christmas present lists and letters in their hands and catch the sweeties that the kings throw to them from the back of their camels. The children will then wave and go home to put out their shoes (not stockings). Good little children get nice gifts, but bad little children get lumps of black coal! (Well, sweeties that look like coal anyway!)

6th January – Dia de Los Reyes

This is the Twelfth day of Christmas, the Epiphany and Kings Day. This is the local’s equivalent to our 25th December and is celebrated in a very similar way by exchanging gifts, eating huge traditional family meals and spending time with family and friends. It marks the end of the festive season and is celebrated by eating a special wreath-shaped cake called Rosco de Reyes or Kings Cake. It is also the day the local kids have been waiting for as finally they get to open and enjoy their Christmas gifts.

Hopefully this has given you an insight into the traditions that you can expect if you decide to spend your Christmas in Fuerte. You can find out more information about the traditional foods, music, recipe and history of these traditions on my other posts.

I would love you hear how you feel about celebrating your Christmas after New Year has passed… what do you think? Let me know by adding a comment in the boxes below.

Thanks for dropping by and Feliz Fiestas!

The Ed!

4 thoughts on “Christmas In The Canaries

  1. Not planning for this year, but your article has inspired another holiday bucket list item. We have a few places we would like to spend future holidays such as Williamsburg, Italy, and the Alps. We do find different holiday customs so interesting. These customs seem to spread the joy across multiple weeks where you can reconnect with family. Now we have a new one to explore over holidays and New Years. Can’t wait.

    1. Thats great. It is a fabulous time of year. Beach in the daytime and so much nightlife at night, all with a backdrop of festive music and twinkly lights. What’s not to enjoy?! 

  2. I like how warm it is in the Canaries. It’s like going to Africa but still being on European grounds. And Christmas seems to be a great time of the year to go. I have heard the Expression Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano Nuevo. But I didn’t know they had an April Fool’s Day right there close to Christmas. I will watch out!

    1. Hi Abel, 

      It is hot here in the winter. In fact, Fuerteventura is only 60 miles off the Morrocan coast and much of the sand here has blown over from the Sahara.. which is why we have beautiful white beaches when our neighbouring islands have black volcanic ones. The April fools is a custom which Is celebrated across much of Spain and the Spanish speaking countries in South America. It is simply a day of fun but you never know what’s going to come around the corner and unlike April fools,… it does not cease at 12 noon, so you need to be on your guard. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error

Please spread the word :)