Celebrate the Christmas Season in Extremadura
With Trujillo situated at the heart of the Extremadura region in Spain, there are plenty of historic festivals to attend during the month of December. From traditional Midnight Mass church services in Trujillo’s medieval churches to holiday markets and unique cultural festivals, the Christmas spirit will not be lost.
One festival in particular, Los Escobazos, is a hidden gem that you cannot experience anywhere else. Only an hour drive from central Trujillo to the town of Jarandilla de la Vera, both in the region of Extremadura, you will find large bonfires, 200 people on horseback, and wine tasting from 7 December into the following day, officially beginning the Christmas season.
With specific origins unknown, Los Escobazos is heavily based on religious foundations. The festival begins during the day on the seventh with preparations for the evening’s festivities. Women and girls gather flower offerings for the Virgin while men prepare their horses and traditional dress for the night festivities. Additionally, brooms are made by hand of all natural materials to be burned later in the evening. The lit brooms hold a special significance other than just for warmth. The fire is passed along broom to broom as a greeting and symbol of friendship and warmth.
Perhaps the most exciting time begins promptly at 22:00, when a banner of Mary Immaculate is carried outside the parish church of San Andres and delivered to a man on horseback who will lead the procession. The banner is escorted throughout the town by the official followed by 200 men on horseback who are dressed in traditional white sheets covered in lace and with an embroidered image of Mary Immaculate. The procession continues for approximately two hours, travelling throughout the town while onlookers keep warm by carrying their burning brooms through the streets. Upon returning the banner to its starting point, approximately 300 kilos of homemade wine are brought out for tasting along with traditional sweets for anyone who wants to try them.
In addition to this event in Jarandilla de la Vera, Trujillo’s own unique Christmas celebrations cannot to be missed. On Christmas Eve, experience the live nativity scene in the main square where real people and animals gather around a straw roofed shed to re-enact this iconic symbol of Christmas in Spain. You can also enjoy traditional festive foods in Trujillo such as polvorones, small and round sweet biscuits covered in icing sugar, and pinones, sugar covered pinenuts.
The festive season is carried not only throughout the month of December, but into January. The 6th of January is known as Three Kings Day. Unlike many Christmas traditions, this is the day when all the children of the village receive their presents. A parade is followed by an entrance of the three Kings on horseback into the main square of Trujillo, bearing sacks of gifts. As the Kings move throughout the village, they throw sweets to on looking children and families that are near the street to greet them. Due to all the activities in the main square, Villa Piedras Albas is the best villa for your stay if you plan on attending these holiday events.
Christmas in Spain is season not to be missed and no matter what you do you will discover Spain’s unique traditions. With intricate nativity scenes, or Nacrimento, as the predominant symbol of Christmas, and an abundance of turrón and marzipan sweets, Extremadura offers countless ways to celebrate the holiday season.