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What makes Christmas and New Year Special in Lanzarote?
The Christmas period, one of the most important times of the year, is almost upon us, with people rushing to get their last-minute shopping done! For most people, it is a time to eat and drink lots, spend quality time with their families, put their feet up, and enjoy much-needed rest and relaxation. In many ways, therefore, Christmas in Lanzarote is like the UK, mainland Europe and many other parts of the world such as the US and Canada.
Although there is a real festive spirit in Lanzarote with Christmas lights in most of the towns and villages, Christmas trees in almost every home, and children excited about their presents, there are big differences as well. One of the most noticeable differences for anyone who is on holiday in Lanzarote over the Christmas period from other European countries, especially countries in Northern Europe, is how warm it still is. It almost doesn’t feel like Christmas as there are average temperature highs of around 19 – 20 °C throughout December and January.
Many people are at the beach still sunbathing and swimming. Even with the milder winters in the UK in recent years, this would still be unthinkable. Places like Australia are expected to have Christmas at the beach as it is summertime there, whereas the Canary Islands are in the middle of winter. Winter in the Canaries is a lot different to the rest of Europe though!
Although there are cultural similarities with the UK during Christmas time, because the Canary Islands are technically part of Spain, most people living in Lanzarote celebrate Christmas according to Spanish traditions. Unlike in the UK, Christmas Eve is just as important as Christmas Day. Many people go to Midnight Mass. Before this service families sit down together to enjoy their main Christmas meal which is traditionally roast Turkey stuffed with truffles, and roast vegetables.
While some presents are given on Christmas Day, the 6th of January is when most presents are given to family members. This is due to another part of the Christmas Story which is celebrated in Spain called ‘Fiesta de Los Tres Reyes Mages’ which means ‘The festival of the three Magic Kings.’ This originates from when the three kings or wise men brought gifts for baby Jesus. Children leave out shoes on windowsills or under the Christmas tree at night-time on January 5th to be filled with presents.
In Lanzarote just like other parts of Spain, there is a Three Wise Men Parade (Cabalgata de Reyes) through the streets of the main towns, with the biggest and most popular being in Arrecife. There are floats with children throwing out sweets, and three men dressed as the wise men riding camels, with a lovely family atmosphere!
In Spanish, New Year’s eve is called ‘Nochevieja’ or ‘The Old Night.’ Traditionally families are with each other at home until midnight, at which time everyone eats 12 grapes, one for each of the 12 clock bell strikes at midnight on 31st December. Each grape and clock bell strike represents each of the following twelve months. According to this tradition, eating the Twelve Grapes leads to a year of prosperity and good luck. As with the rest of the world, in Lanzarote, there are also fireworks let off around the island.
Many of the towns and villages have miniature versions of the towns, and features of Lanzarote on display including nativity scenes incorporated into them. These are set up every year about a month before Christmas and are on display for the public, drawing a lot of interest, as they are well designed and constructed, with a lot of care and attention put into them.
Whether you are spending the Christmas and New Year period enjoying the lovely weather and culture of Lanzarote, or are reading this from back home, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the LBRA team! If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it on social media.