6 French and Spanish Christmas Traditions
At One Third Stories, we believe learning about different cultures is important for everyone, including little kids. It’s a great way to get different perspectives on the world and can help little ones become more empathetic and understanding towards others. So, in the spirit of that and of Christmas, we thought we’d take a look at the different French and Spanish traditions they have at this festive time of year. Enjoy!
1) French: The Father Christmas Postcard Law
At this time of year around the world, little children are sitting down to write letters to Father Christmas, asking for presents and enjoying
the magic that this season brings. In France, though, they actually have a law around this tradition! It was brought about in 1962 and says that every letter sent to the jolly man must be responded to, so every child gets a reply. We think that’s a pretty great law!
2) Spanish: April Fool’s Day in December
All the way over in sunny Spain, they have a tradition that’s similar to England, but at a totally different time of year. Their equivalent of April Fool’s Day is held on December 28th and is called ‘Dia de los Santos Inocentes’. Kids and adults both join in with the fun by playing pranks and dressing up in funny clothes – basically, it’s just a day to be a little bit silly! Why not get involved this year with your little ones and celebrate December 28th in Spanish style?
3) French: Shoes by the Fire
There are a couple of variations in the UK on what we leave by the fireplace for Santa on Christmas Eve, but it usually consists of milk, mince-pies or cookies, and some carrots for the reindeer. In France, however, they pop a pair of shoes by the fire. We know, sounds strange right? But the shoes are placed in the hopes that by the morning Father Christmas will have filled them with sweets and presents – kind of like our stockings!
4) Spanish: Another Father Christmas
In Spain, they have their own version of Santa Claus. Theirs is a mythical figure called ‘Olentzero’ who takes the form of a giant who smokes a pipe and wears peasant clothing. He travels on Christmas Eve, just the same as our Santa, and brings presents for all the children.
5) French: The Burning of the Log
Most of you probably know what a yule log is, and some of you may even be tucking into one this Christmas, but did you know the tradition of this originated from France? It’s a pretty old tradition that doesn’t happens so much these days, but families used to keep a log burning in their home from Christmas until New Years Day. The log would then be used as a part of the wedge for the plough, and it was thought to bring good fortune for the year’s harvest. We don’t know about you, but we think we’ll stick with the chocolate cake version this year!
6) Spanish: Christmas Cake Alternative
Add a little Spanish cuisine to your festive celebrations this year with a ‘Roscon de Reyes’– Spain’s version of our Christmas cake or Christmas pudding. This delicious dessert is basically a ring of sweet bread, which is filled with whipped cream and covered in candied fruits and almonds. There can also be a little figure hidden somewhere in the food, and whoever finds it must buy the Roscon de Reyes for next year.
There you have it! Now you have a few more ideas you can incorporate into your Christmas this year to create a more multi-cultural celebration. As we said, we think it’s super important that kids are learning about different cultures from a young age and learning a language can also be a great way to do this. Why not start teaching your little one some French and Spanish in the New Year, and get them excited by incorporating these traditions into your Christmas?
You can also encourage their language learning with the new One Third Stories Christmas book – a beautifully illustrated, hardback story that makes a wonderful gift! It uses our unique Clockwork Methodology which makes learning a new language simpler than ever, even for children. They’ll begin reading in English, and by the end they’ll be able to read the story in French or Spanish – simple!