There are many ways to celebrate Christmas Season all over the world but consumer society has turned this religious festivity into a frantic shopping event with little spiritual content. This we all know and submit to, helplessly, year after year. Madrid is no exception to the fact. Nevertheless, there are certain particularities which make a difference. After all, in Spain, Christmas lasts longer, all the way into the first week of January with the arrival of the Magi into Spanish households after a glorious parade through city streets. They are the bearers of presents to which well behaved Spanish children write every year spurred by aggressive TV ads inciting parents to contribute to economic growth via rising consumer sales. Nothing new under the sun. Yet, the Christmas spirit prevails in some of the activities Madrid locals and visitors can indulge in as they search for the true meaning of ’tis the season.
For instance, most neighborhood churches hold Christmas Carols (Villancicos) concerts and this really gets you in a suitable mood, free of charge. Then, one can admire the Nativity Scene Exhibits which proliferate all over the city, the most spectacular being the ones at Royal Palace, City Hall and Puerta del Sol. At the Plaza Mayor, you can wander through the Christmas market which retains a nostalgic atmosphere of yesteryear. Throughout the strolls in the downtown area you will be engulfed by the striking Christmas lighting and this year, at the Gran Via, you can exercise your pedestrian rights and take over the entire street, as traffic has been banned from Madrid’s most important avenue. Last but not least, roll over Times Square, at the Puerta del Sol you can welcome the New Year by sharing with the masses the 12-grapes-of-luck-eating ceremony as the bells strike at midnight, December 31.
All this without stepping once into the alluring shopping malls and department stores which is fine if you can afford it, but there are alternatives…This said, there is a long standing Spanish tradition you may feel inclined to submit to: reach into your pocket and buy a 20 euro ticket (“décimo”) of the Spanish Christmas Lottery. Everyone is eligible. Luck has no prejudices and you never know. It might be the icing on the cake of a well spent Christmas in Madrid.