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What 6 Spanish phrases say about the holidays in Spain

By Memrise Team

How are the holidays celebrated in Spain? We like bringing real culture to the videos in our app, so we’ve created a new Spanish Holiday Survival Kit course to show you. Here’s a breakdown of 5 phrases from the course and how they’re used in context:

Vamos a tomar las uvas – Let’s eat the grapes!

There’s no NYE in Spain without eating the grapes. Grapes you ask? Yes! It’s a popular tradition followed religiously by all Spaniards to eat 12 grapes at the sound of the 12 chimes that count down to the New Year. So normally you’ll sit with your family and friends around the television and watch the special emission to see the clock in La Puerta del Sol strike the 12 chimes, and with every one of them you eat one grape. It’s not easy, I can tell you! It takes years of practice until you finally master the art of wolfing down a grape per second without choking. *It’s said to bring good luck into the New Year* 

Learn this phrase and more now on the Memrise app

Todavía queda el roscón – We still have the roscón left

We all know Christmas is a lot about meeting the family and friends and eating like there’s no tomorrow! The succession of dinner parties seems to never end. In Spain the last day of indulging in shameless gluttony is the 6th of January, or the Day of the Magi as we call it. On this day families usually exchange presents and celebrate the epiphany with a massive ring-shaped cakefilled with cream that contains a hidden present for the lucky person who finds it! 

Learn this phrase and more now on the Memrise app

He puesto el belén  – I’ve set the nativity scene

Sure, we do put up Christmas trees in Spain but what truly excites many of us is setting the Nativity scene. You can have dozens of little figures and get creative building some DIY river with foil, moss or a bridge with Legos if you fancy. Probably the most curious figure of the Belén is “el caganet”, more common in Catalonia. This piece depicts a little guy hanging around behind the main Nativity, doing… well, basically a number two. I know.

Learn this phrase and more now on the Memrise app

Vamos a por churros – Let’s go get some churros!

Are you one of those brave people who dares to venture into the chaos of NYE parties? You don’t mind getting suffocated by the crowds. You may even be one of those who stay up until they see the light of day on NY’s. I certainly don’t! But the Spaniards who do stay up until all clubs and parties close, like to put a sweet closure with the ritual of queuing for churros (at a churros kiosk, obviously) and dipping those in chocolate, to get them energy for the walk of shame and the NY’s family lunch. I know from a friend.

Learn this phrase and more now on the Memrise app

Hacer el amigo invisible – To do the invisible friend

Do we celebrate Secret Santa in Spain? Yes they do. But only they call it “invisible friend”, ain’t that cute? Other than that it’s exactly the same, cheap crappy gifts, etc. I once got a bag of bagels.

Learn this phrase and more now on the Memrise app

¿Te ha tocado el gordo? – Have you won the jackpot?

“El gordo” is the fat one. The jackpot. The “fattest” prize in the National Christmas lottery  (4 million euros) that takes place every year on the 22nd of Decemberoung teenagers with shrill voices sing loudly the numbers and the prizes, it’s truly moving. You will always ask this question to your neighbour, with a hint of sarcasm, to know if you need to hate him forever and curse your luck or lack of belief! 

Learn this phrase and more now on the Memrise app


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