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Spain Christmas Traditions

Christmas is a very festive holiday in Spain. The country's patron saint is the Virgin Mary and the Christmas begins on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
It is celebrated every year in front of the great Gothic cathedral in Seville with a formal procedure called the "dance of six." The ritual dance is now performed by not six but ten elaborately costumed boys.

It is a series of precise movements and gestures and is said to be quite moving and beautiful. On Christmas Eve, as the stars twinkle, small oil lamps are lit in each house and after Midnight Mass and Christmas Dinner, streets fill with dancers and onlookers.

Jota a very special Christmas dance is also performed and the words and music have been handed down for hundreds of years. Most of homes have a manger.

These are complete with carved figures. Children consider of the Three Wise Man as the present bearers. According to tradition they arrive on January 6th, the date the Wise Men gave gifts to Jesus. The Spanish give respect to the cow at Christmas because it is cosidered that when Mary gave birth to Jesus the cow in the stable breathed on the Baby Jesus to keep him warm.

Shoes are filled with straw or barley for the tired camels that must carry their riders through the busy night. By morning the camel food is gone and in place of the straw or barley are presents. Shoes also may be placed on balconies on the night of the 6th January in the hope that the Wise Men will fill them with gifts. Christmas Eve is known as Nochebuena or "the Good Night." It is a time for family members to gather together to enjoy and feast around the Nativity scenes.