Vocabulary - celebrations and parties

Spain is well-known for its fiestas and festivals. Almost every city, town and village has its own festival of some kind, which is usually a big street party for all the residents. Some festivals are famous all over the world, such as the fireworks of Las Fallas in Valencia and the tomato throwing at La Tomatina.

Here are some useful verbs to use when talking about celebrations:

brindarto toast
celebrarto celebrate
decorarto decorate
disfrazarseto dress up
regalarto give a present

As in the UK, Christmas and New Year are big celebrations for many people. Here is some useful vocabulary to get started talking about them:

el Año NuevoNew Year
el árbol de NavidadChristmas tree
la costumbrecustom/tradition
el día festivopublic holiday/bank holiday
la fiestaparty/festival
los fuegos artificialesfireworks
la NavidadChristmas
la NochebuenaChristmas Eve
la NocheviejaNew Year's Eve
el Papá NoelFather Christmas
la tradicióntradition
el villancicoChristmas carol
Eating 12 grapes at midnight on New Year's Eve is a tradition in Spain. One grape is eaten on each of the 12 strokes of midnight.

Read this passage about Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve celebrations in Spain:

Madrid Town Hall with fireworks

La cena de Nochebuena en España tiene lugar cada 24 de diciembre. Esta cena se celebra en los hogares de los españoles junto a toda la familia.

La Nochevieja se despide del año entre fuegos artificiales, fiestas, tradiciones familiares, y las famosas 12 uvas de la suerte. La costumbre de las 12 uvas tiene su origen en el año 1909 y se considera un rito para entrar en el año nuevo con suerte.

Grapes on a plate with sequin reading Happy New Year

Answer the questions in English.


What do most Spaniards do on Christmas Eve in Spain?

They have dinner with their family at home.

La cena de Nochebuena ... se celebra en los hogares de los españoles junto a toda la familia (Christmas Eve dinner ... is celebrated in Spanish homes with all the family).


Apart from eating 12 grapes on the strokes of midnight, note two ways that Spaniards celebrate New Year's Eve.

Here are three examples: fireworks (fuegos artificiales), fiestas (parties) and family traditions (tradiciones familiares).


Why are grapes traditionally eaten?

They are eaten to bring luck: para entrar en el año nuevo con suerte (to start the new year with luck).