People with an interest in the Spanish culture might be interested to know about some of the traditions that happen in Spain around Christmas time.

Several Santas

First up, there's Spain's various versions of Santa Claus. While many other countries only really observe a specific example of Father Christmas, several regions in this eclectic Mediterranean country have adopted a proverbial festive entity of their own. There's Tió de Nadal - Catalonia's hollow woodwork with two legs and a face. There's also Olentzero - the Basque region's chubby chap with a pipe in his mouth. There are others, too.

Tasty eats

Step aside turkey and trifle, as Spain has its own characteristic Christmas treats to eat. Come late December, lunch and dinner plates are lined with various types of cheese, several different tapas and a selection of cured meat and festive fish. For dessert, there's Turron, which is a hard nougat of sorts. And don't forget polvorones - a delicious Spanish cookie.

Christmas lottery popularity

The months and weeks leading up to Christmas also sees many Spaniards enter the El Gordo draw. It's a Christmas lottery that serves up many prizes, some of which are of hefty monetary proportions. The draw isn't limited to those in Spain, as El Gordo bets are available at Lottoland as well. Indeed, people from all around the United Kingdom can bet on the outcome of El Gordo.

Market merriment

Attending markets becomes a popular pastime for people in Spain around Christmas time. From Barcelona and Valencia to Madrid, Malaga and elsewhere, there are many markets on the go throughout December and beyond. Barcelona has one of the oldest markets - Fira de Santa Llúcia. It is renowned for handcrafted Christmas decorations. In Valencia, you can find a fair with a Christmas theme - Feria de Atracciones de Navidad.

Festive football

While Spain's most high-profile football league, LaLiga, generally takes a bit of a break ahead of Christmas, it resumes shortly after. Fans fill stadiums as Barcelona and Real Madrid renew their rivalry, while Real Betis, Getafe, Celta Vigo and others also jostle for position. This is highly entertaining football for supporters of Sevilla and teams.

Fun foolery

A few days after Christmas, on December 28, Spain recognise el Día de Los Santos Inocentes - Day of the Holy Innocents. It's a version of April Fool's Day, which comprises several hours of fictional tales disguised as genuine news. Flour and eggs are thrown during fake coups and ludicrous laws are imposed, only to be found out as fibs later.

Juicy grapes

Just short of a week beyond Christmas and heading into the new year, Spaniards eat grapes as the clock strikes 12 and fireworks close one annum and bring in another. This celebration is said to bring good luck and is traditionally coupled with Spanish wine glasses that have rings inside them. This is another way the locals signal good luck for the new year.

There you have it. Just a few ways Spain like to celebrate Christmas and key dates before and after it.