A New Perspective this Holiday Season: Winter Holidays Around the World

Feliz Navidad!

This year we will be spending our first Christmas overseas in Madrid, Spain. It’s been a mixture of emotions–excitement for new traditions but also sadness for being so far away from family. Either emotion, we want to make sure that this Christmas is just as special and magical as any other for our two girls. Earlier this month we purchased our first European Christmas tree and kept the tradition of decorating the home while listening to Michael Buble’s Christmas album, drinking hot cocoa, and then finishing up with a holiday movie. (This year was Home Alone.) 

Although Spain captures many of the same Christmas traditions (Christmas trees, carols, lights, gifts, candy canes), there are still some new cultural and religious additions that we have enjoyed learning about. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are still very much present and celebrated in Spain. However, the holiday season extends even further until the Epiphany on January 6th. This time is known as the Fiesta de los Tres Reyes Mages (The Festival of the Three Magic Kings). This is the celebration of when the Three Wise Men brought gifts to the baby Jesus. Because of this, Spanish children believe that their presents are from the Three Kings and are brought to them on this day.

Although Santa has become a “newer” tradition in Spain, many children still write letters to the Three Kings in hopes to receive gifts. On the eve of Epiphany they will leave their shoes on their balconies or under their trees to have filled with their new gifts. And instead of cookies and milk for Santa, they will leave a glass of cognac and some walnuts for the arrival of the Kings. Of course there are still many family gatherings on the 24th and 25th, but most wait until the religious holiday of Epiphany.

Our new tree in our Spanish flat

I love that I’m able to share this new tradition with my children. Although we will celebrate Christmas on the 24th and 25th, we look forward to adding this new Spanish tradition to our celebrations. It is a great way for our girls to learn about new cultures and religions while living abroad.

If you are interested in sharing a new tradition with your family this year, check out this holiday infographic and many of the traditions that are celebrated throughout the world.

Winter Holidays around the World

No matter what or when you celebrate, we at Iowa City Moms Blog wish you peace during this joyful season of Winter Holidays!


Mary, a native of Rockford, Illinois, attended DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois where she received her BA in Secondary Art Education. In 2007, she moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa after accepting a position as a high school visual arts teacher with the Cedar Rapids Community School District. She and her husband, Collin, who is a teacher in the Iowa City Community School District, reside in Cedar Rapids with their daughters, Zoey and Munroe. Zoey is five and Munroe will be turning one in October 2016. In addition to being a full time mommy, full time teacher, and writer for the mom’s blog, she is also a professional artist who has shown and published works both nationally and internationally. Mary enjoys traveling, painting, and most of all, spending time with her family.


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