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No matter what plaza you’re visiting, the stands are jam packed. The mercadillos are
an important part of the Spaniards’ Christmas routine, like decorating their
tree and eating their turrón. And they’re a major tourist attraction too!
by Jazmin Moore
Photos: J. Moore
It’s the most wonderful time of year again!
As temperatures drop and the streets light up, the spirit of Christmas comes alive in the beautiful city of Madrid.
But what’s the biggest sign that Los Reyes are coming into town? The famous mercadillos navideños (Christmas markets), of course!
From Plaza Santa Ana to Plaza España, and just about every plaza in between, vendors set up their booths as families flock to get their hands on some Christmas goodies.
These stands typically sell all the building blocks you need for your own belén, the Nativity scene Catholic Spaniards love to set up in their home for the Holidays.
Naturally, the stands sell Christmas accessories and decorations, but also fun prank toys like gum that zaps you and a camera that squirts water, which kids are always dying to buy.
No matter what plaza you’re visiting, the stands are jam-packed from 11 AM to 11 PM; the crowds just never seem to dissipate. So how do these annual markets that each seems to sell the same exact thing maintain their popularity? Why don’t visitors just make their lives easier and shop at El Corte Ingles?
The tradition, of course.
Families make it a point to add a new piece to their Nativity set or a new ornament to their tree every year by visiting and buying from these festive booths. It’s an important part of their Christmas routine, like decorating their tree and eating their turrón.
The joy in kids’ faces as they pick out a brand new goat or baby Jesus to add to the family belén is more than enough reason to keep these mercadillos navideños alive.
They’re a major tourist attraction too, seeing as how nothing even close to them exists in places like the United States, and even Spaniards from all over Spain come to Madrid to experience this Holiday treasure.
Mercadillos navideños are a key part of Spanish culture, and it’s one that you can appreciate whether you’re a member of a family, or just a passerby enjoying the lights and joyous chaos.
Manuela Carmena, progresista mayor of Madrid, is going to have to try just a little bit harder if she wants to get rid of Spain’s Nativity tradition because it sure doesn’t look like it’s dying down any time soon.
For one so young, Jazmin has ample experience in the media. Currently reporting for Guidepost, she has done a stint at radio stations like the South Florida Journal, and was Entertainment News Director at Florida Atlantic University’s Owl TV.
Image: Feliz Navidad by Peter & Joyce Grace via Flickr, CC BY2.0, cropped
Texts, prints, photos and other illustrative materials depicted in GUIDEPOST have been either contributed by the authors of each published work or, to the Magazine’s good-faith knowledge, are in the public domain or otherwise benefit from the allowances of Articles 9(2), 10, 10(bis), and applicable others of the Berne Convention for the Protection of literary and artistic works.