Spanish Christmas
For the incoming visitor from Northern Europe, Spain may seem a somewhat exotic
place to spend the Christmas season. The temperature in no way resembles the snowbound
north. Many days are sunny and demand the use of sun cream rather than overcoats.
But aside for the climate, there are many traditions that make Christmas in Málaga a
somewhat exotic experience. Aside from the food that has a heavy Mediterranean accent,
Christmas in Spain is bound by more religious influence than its northern neighbours….
Nativity Scenes
Spain is a catholic country. The imposition of the religious traditions was a feature of
Franco’s Spain during his rule (1939-1975). While the rest of the western hemisphere
revelled in the commercial side of Christmas, Spain rendered its customs to the Christian
view of these holidays.
The representation of the Nativity scene is one of the most important features in all
Spanish homes and cities. In Malaga, you can find 4 different and elaborate Nativity scenes
on exhibition to the public.

  • Municipal Nativity – At Malaga’s City Hall. From December 6 th to January 6 th . This is the
    most popular and has long queues of up to an hour on the weekends.
  • Cathedral Nativity – At the cathedral from December 2 nd to January 6 th . This year, they
    added a touch of maritime folklore to tie it to Malaga’s connection to
    the sea.
  • Student Cultural Association Zegrí – From December 5 th to January 5 th (Saturday
    and Sundays closed). On Calle Alcazabilla 3, situated
    between the City Hall and the Picasso Museum. This
    is one of the most popular Nativity scenes, as it is the
    largest and most renowned for its Renaissance

*Carmen Thyssen Museum Nativity – From the November 24 th to January 13 th , from Tuesday
to Sunday, you can find this Neapolitan version
installed in the main patio and recreated based on the
artwork of the museum’s permanent collection by

of the city’s Easter Procession brotherhoods.
The Three Kings
Of the displays of Catholic traditions, the most prominent Christmas feature are the 2
Kings or Wise Men. These characters are featured in an important role in the biblical
portrayal of the birth of Christ.
As told in the bible, they followed the star in the Christmas sky to Bethlehem to
render homage to the new-born Christ child in the manger. As in the biblical tradition, these
three noblemen came bearing gifts for the child, they have become the figures that bring
gifts to Spanish children for Christmas.
As opposed to the Anglo-Saxon traditions that portray Santa Claus leaving gifts under
the Christmas tree where children find them on Christmas morning, in Spain, Gifts are left by
the window on the night of January 5 th , to be found by the kids the next morning (January 6 th ,
“King’s Day”).
Similarly to the Anglo-Saxon tradition of leaving some food for Santa’s reindeers, in
the Spanish tradition, food is left for the camels that the three kings ride…

Christmas Parade in Malaga
The traditional Christmas parade in Malaga City is celebrated on the evening of
January 5 th , from 6 PM, circulating through the streets of the city centre.
Aside from colourful troops of different themes that vary every year, the most
important features are the three kings themselves. They join the parade at the door of the
City Hall, and are the permanent delight of all children following the event. They throw
candy to the crowd and are definitely the main stars of the evening.
After the parade, the city falls into a lull, as families usually retire early to assure the
kids are in bed for the inevitable visit of the three…