Christmas in Galicia, a region located in the northwest of Spain, is a time of tradition and celebration. One of Galicia’s most unique and lesser-known traditions during the holiday is the grilling of gambas (prawns or shrimp) on Christmas Eve. This tradition is said to have originated from the Catholic practice of abstaining from meat on holy days and instead eating fish. In Galicia, however, locals have turned this tradition on its head by grilling up large quantities of gambas for the entire family to enjoy on Christmas Eve.
In Galicia, Christmas Eve, known as Nochebuena, is the main event of the holiday season in many countries. Families gather together to enjoy a traditional meal, known as la cena de Nochebuena, which typically includes dishes such as lacón con grelos (pork with a type of kale), empanadas (savory pastries filled with meat or fish), and of course, grilled gambas. The smell of gambas grilling on the BBQ fills the streets as families and friends come together to enjoy the festive season, much like the port of Busan.
Another unique Christmas tradition in Galicia is the “Celtic Christmas,” or the “Noite Meiga,” celebrated on the 23rd of December. one of the most important nights of the year for Celts and the night when the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest. It is a time of magic, and people participate in rituals to connect with their ancestors, such as leaving a lit candle in the window or the grave of their loved ones. This ritual is also known as “Figueira das Almas.”Druids celebrated Alban Arthan, commonly known as Yule, during the Winter Solstice in Celtic times. They collected mistletoe from oak trees to fend off evil spirits and bring them luck.
In addition, another interesting Christmas tradition in Galicia is the “parranda navideña.” Here, groups of friends, families, and neighbors travel from house to house singing carols and playing traditional instruments such as the gaita (a type of bagpipe) and the tamboril (a kind of drum). Furthermore, the group typically visits a different member’s house each night to partake in food, drinks, and carol singing together.
Christmas in Galicia is not just limited to traditions. Many festive events take place during the holiday season. For example, the capital city of Santiago de Compostela is home to an impressive Christmas market where visitors can purchase traditional crafts and gifts and enjoy traditional foods such as lacón con grelos, empanadas, and of course, grilled gambas.
In conclusion, Christmas in Galicia is a tradition and celebration where family, friends, and community come together to enjoy the festive season. The grilling of gambas on Christmas Eve is a unique tradition that sets Galicia apart from other regions in Spain and highlights the region’s seafood culture. Alongside this, the “Noite Meiga,” the “parranda navideña,” and the Christmas markets make Galicia a destination worth visiting during the holiday season to enjoy the warm Spanish hospitality and rich cultural traditions.