Spanish Christmas Vocabulary – video, vocab list and more

December 17, 2021

Hey everyone!

Just wanted to say Merry Christmas, before signing off for the year…

With a spectacular list of Spanish Christmas vocabulary, and some information about local holiday traditions.

Of course, I’ve already written a bit about Christmas in Madrid, the never-ending holiday season, and of course, the lottery that everyone’s talking about.

Today I wanted to teach you some Spanish vocabulary.

Because even if you’re not planning on getting 100% fluent in Spanish, you should still learn the lingo.

christmas in spain - puerta del sol, madrid

And these are words you won’t be able to avoid if you’re here.

So without further ado…

Spanish Christmas Vocabulary – a list of the most important words

You can hear the pronunciation of most of this in my new video, actually.

I’m teaching a bit of Spanish over on YouTube. It’s a side project. You know. Keep myself busy.

Here ya go…

If you’d prefer to just read the vocabulary – with translation into English, of course – here’s a nifty little table-formatted list that covers all the words you need to know about Christmas, New Year’s Day, Epiphany and more.

¡Feliz Navidad!Merry Christmas!
La NavidadChristmas
NochebuenaChristmas Eve
el Día de NavidadChristmas Day
NocheviejaNew Year’s Eve
Día del Año NuevoNew Year’s Day
las doce uvastwelve grapes
Noche de ReyesTwelfth Night (5 January)
Día de ReyesEpiphany (6 January)
Los Tres Reyes MagosThe Three Wise Men / Kings of Orient
oro, incienso y mirragold, (frank)incense and myrrh
un beléna Nativity scene
mantecadostraditional lard-based cookies
jamón ibéricoIberian ham
besugosea bream
cochinillo asadoroast suckling pig
roscón de ReyesKing cake

So that’s the vocab. As you can see, some of those words refer to traditions around the Three Wise Men and Epiphany, a holiday which isn’t really popular where I’m from.

The “twelve grapes” thing is something Spanish people do at midnight on New Year’s – they stuff their mouths with grapes while the clock is striking twelve.

And, obviously, there might be some translation for “mantecados” besides “traditional lard-based cookies”, but I haven’t been able to find it. Is it a type of shortbread? Well, probably.

A few more notes about the Spanish Christmas vocabulary…

So in the video I said that turrón is “pralines”. I guess I was wrong. I just had no idea what a praline was this whole time. Turns out that turrón is “nougat”, which sounds like it’s probably one of the less-popular ingredients in a Milky Way bar or something.

And besugo turns out to be “sea bream”. I guess it’s similar to “dorada”, which is more common all year round – you might find it at nicer restaurants as part of a menú del día. I think a sea bream is just the dorada’s more-expensive cousin, which you don’t see much of except at Christmas.

If you’re in New Orleans around Mardi Gras, you might be able to get a King cake. Otherwise they’re not super popular. You’re only going to see them in Spain for about a week before Reyes, also.

So that’s about it. Hope you’ve enjoyed the little vocab lesson.

I’m off to gorge myself on sugar and wait for the impending collapse of society. Seeya!

Festively yours,


P.S. Chestnuts are terrible. And so are prawns, for the most part. There. I said it. (Someone had to.)

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About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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  1. Hello Daniel. Since you are so iconoclastic, you will not tear off your rags if I tell you that I don’t give a damn about Christmas

  2. I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones the best for the whole year, not only on these dates.
    Take care and have a blast!

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