Though not as fervent catholic as the myth states, religious traditions had strong roots in Spain, particularly during Easter. During Semana Santa, the processions took by assault the streets of every mayor city or village of the country, and Madrid is not an exception.
Please, check my “Easter in Madrid” travelogue, for further info about this religious celebration.
To ring in the new year, gather in and around Puerta del Sol to capture live concerts, fireworks and the Madrid spirit. At midnight it is customary to place a grape in your mouth each time the bell rings: 12 grapes, 12 bells. I was told not to chew or swallow until the all 12 were in my mouth.
If your hotel doesn't provide you with the bubbly and grapes purchase it from the many vendors in the area.
In Spain, 6th January is an important date - in fact the most important date - in the Christmas calendar (el calendario deNavidad)......
This date is known as Los Reyes Magos, named after the Magi - three wise men who supposedly followed a bright shining star to arrive at the manger where Jesus Christ was born.
So, as part of the festivities to celebrate, towns throughout Spain have a procession of the Kings. In Madrid, this takes part through a central part of the city, starting at Nuevos Ministerios and following the path down Paseo de la Castellana towards Plaza de Colón and further beyond. Thousands of people turn out onto the streets to watch the many different colourful floats passing, in expectation of the giant sized ´Kings´, who come bearing gifts.....
Thousands of sweets are thrown into the crowds for the children to share, and so you will find the many excited children lining the front of the crowd along the procession.
Also on this special day, a cake is eaten - roscón de reyes, which you will see all over the city filling the windows of many a pastelería. The cake can be bought with/without cream (con/sin nata) and is covered in green and red ´jewels´... inside the cake a treasure is hidden. A small King figurine is baked within it, to be found by just one lucky person when they take their slice. In a café yesterday, my friend was the lucky one!
I have added pictures here of a roscón for you to see, and will later add some of the street procession.
Around the Iglesia de San Lorenzo in the Lavapies barrio. in each street a may queen(maya) is choosen for a flowerfull may fiesta. The day after that on 2 may there is a militairy parade at Sol and a festival at the plaza del Dos de Mayop in Malasagna.
Easter is one of the most important religious holidays in Spain. Most cities have Easter processions on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, and Madrid's and Toledo's processions count among the most important. If you are lucky enough, as I was, to be in Spain during Semana Santa, then you must catch one of these processions. You must also enter churches to see the statues of the Virgin surrounded by candles and flowers (see photos).
See the biggest flag in all of Spain fly freely in the Spanish Sunshine.
Local Holidays for Flag waving include:
National Day 12th. October
San Isidro Day 15th. May
Constitution Day 6th. December
King's Day San Juan 24th. June
May the 2nd is Community of Madrid local festivity, commemorating the beginning of the Resistance against the Napoleonic invasion of 1808 (blah blah blah, boring historical fact). The real live fact is that it makes a wonderful long weekend holiday at the beginning of May, which is the very best month to visit Madrid, imho.
During that weekend, there are plenty of cultural activities in the city. Among my favorites, I'll put the free concerts at Plaza del 2 de Mayo (Malasa?a district). Live music, tasty and grassy food, plenty of beer... My kind of place! :-D
The 31st of December of each year... all spanish people is pending of this clock.....
We have the tradition to eat one grape with each of the 12 clock?s strokes, if you are able to finish the twelve grapes before the last stroke you will have good luck in the following months.
Mos of the people meet in this square for the moment... but by own experience, if you really want this to happend... do not go to a busy square wher eyou can not here the clock strokes lol ...
It has happened to me twice, on the 2000 here in plaza del sol, and this year on Marbella, at plaza de los Naranjos, where the discjokey was drunk and did not advice the rest of the people lol
But I have to admit something .... this year I know my wish is going to be true.. as there are lots of chances that it will happend....
Keep fingers crosseddddddd!!!
UPDATES It became true ......
At the pic you can see the traditional dress of Madrid. They are mainly wear in the local festivities of San Isidro (15th May). At this pic you can see my younger daughter Celia wearing it at a school show :-))
On the 15th May is the local Festivity of San Isidro. There are many celebrations around, specially on that day.
But on all that week and the previous, you will find many many concerts, exhibitions and so.
More info at www.munimadrid.com
BTW, if you come in that week, reserve in advance, just in case...
El di'a de los Reyes Magos, comes just after the New Year Eve, at the 6 to January. It's a royal parade that starts from Parque del Buen Retiro to the Plaza Mayor
The people in Madrid are vey spontaneous and jolly. Many put in folk dresses. The street look very colourful. In every taverna all have good time. All drink sangria with fruits.
Every town quarter have own patron. Here it is La Paloma. The procession participiants are carring just her picture.