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Spanish festive and sales shopping behaviour revealed: What and how we buy
Monday, January 17, 2022 @ 8:41 PM

SANTA Claus or the Three Kings? Now the festive season is finally over – Spain celebrates all 12 days – and the post-Christmas sales are into their second week, researchers into shopping habits, family traditions and other features of household economics have released some fascinating findings, some of which come as quite a surprise.

Festive gift-buying has finished, now the January sales have begun - it's a bumper time of year for the retail industry (photo by Spain's international tourism board)

One unique aspect of the winter holidays in Spain – found elsewhere in the world, but still uncommon – is that gifts to adults and children alike have long been opened on the night of the Magi's arrival in Bethlehem, or January 5, following a colourful parade through towns and with the next day as a bank holiday.

The Three Wise Men are Kings in Spanish folklore, or Reyes, and the notion of their bringing the presents is a little more in keeping with the original biblical tale than the northern European Saint Nicholas custom – in The Netherlands, for example, the mythical Sinterklaas delivers the gifts much earlier in December, and Christmas Day itself is merely a family meal, so the Dutch effectively have two Christmases with the first of them being the main event.

Santa Claus has increased dramatically in presence in Spain in the past decade or so – in the early 2000s, he was practically unheard of and considered a foreign concept – but for practical reasons, Father Christmas' visit on the night of December 24 has become more widespread among families with young children: If you get your new toys within three or five days of breaking up from school, you have a whole fortnight to play with them and keep you occupied and out from under your parents' feet, rather than just one day or, at most, three, if January 6 falls on a Friday.



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