The Spanish don't have their big meal on Christmas Day. Instead, Christmas Eve is the big deal. But there is more to eating at Christmas than the big festive meal. Spanish sweets are the most iconic part of Christmas indulgence.
Food on Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve is the most important part of Christmas in Spain and dinner that day is the biggest meal of the year, but there is nothing as ubiquitous as turkey. In the past 'pavo trufado' (turkey stuffed with truffles) was a popular dish with the country's elite, but this is not common - I have yet to meet anyone who has ever had it.
The only rule today is that people eat 'well' (and probably expensively). Lobster is very common, and a roast of some sort is essential (usually lamb or suckling pig). In addition to all this, most families will also have soup (usually fish), and an abundance of other seafood, cheeses, hams and pates. Dinner starts late, at about 10pm and will go on for a couple of hours.
- Christmas Dinner in Spain Pictures from my Christmas dinner in a restaurant in Salamanca, Spain.
- More on Christmas in Spain What happens in Spain in Christmas, including a day by day break down.
- Strange Christmas Traditions in Spain They do get up to some funny things!
- Christmas Menu Recipes from the About.com Guide to Spanish Food
Where Spanish food at Christmas really comes into its own is with its sweets, including a variety of nougats, marzipans and crumbly, indescrible things.
Read more about Christmas Sweets in Spain.
In addition to these, no Spanish Christmas hamper is complete without some mandarins (mandarinas), walnuts (nueces) & dates (datiles).
Eating at a Restaurant in Spain at Christmas
Note that it is nigh on impossible to get a meal in a restaurant on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is easier, but book in advance. If you are arriving in Spain a few days before Christmas, make finding a restaurant to eat at on Christmas Day the first thing you do.
If you do manage to get a meal at a restaurant, see what you can expect: Christmas food in Spain at a Restaurant.