For members


#Navidad: The essential Spanish expressions you’ll need at Christmas time

Every country has special expressions and phrases during Christmas that are connected to their traditions, and Spain is no exception.

#Navidad: The essential Spanish expressions you'll need at Christmas time
People enjoy the Christmas lights in Malaga. Photo: AFP

If this is going to be your first Christmas in Spain, then these are what you must know to get through the festive period like a local.

READ ALSO:  12 weird and wonderful Christmas traditions celebrated across Spain

“Te tocó el gordo”

This means that you have won the fat one and that you've won the most important  refers to the biggest prize of the Christmas lottery.

In Spain, the opening Christmas season is marked by results announcement of the traditional Christmas lottery that is drawn on the 22th of December when the results sang by children, starts to arise in every corner of the street.

READ ALSO:  El Gordo: Everything you need to know about Spain's Christmas lottery

“Felices fiestas” and “Feliz Navidad”

Happy holidays and happy Christmas.

Merry Christmas and New Year wishes are typical during the Christmas family dinner that's celebrated on Christmas Eve each year: “Cena de Nochebuena” (Christmas Eve dinner) when is eaten the traditional pavo (turkey); on “Día de Navidad” (Christmas Day), when the gifts are opened.

Photo: Chris Oakley/Flickr 

“Feliz Año Nuevo”

Happy New Year

Once the Christmas festivities are over, the 31st of December is the perfect way to immerse yourself in a huge celebrations worldwide.  In Spain, there are unique customs on “Nochevieja” (New Year's Eve) when 12 uvas (grapes) are eaten as each of the chimes (campanadas) that ring in the New Year.

  • Gracias, ¡pero es que ya no puedo comer más!

       Thanks, but I can't eat more!

Usually, by the time Christmas Day arrives, people have spent the last 25 days eating and drinking. In a country as generous as Spain, it's important to know how to say that you really can't eat any more!

Three Kings parade in Madrid in 2015. Photo: AFP

¿Qué te han traído los Reyes Magos?

What did the Three Wise Men bring you?

In Spain, it's not Santa Claus that brings presents, but the Three Wise Men. Spain sticks close to the bible when it comes to the Christmas story and children are more excited about Los Reyes than anything else. There are huge parades where children are given sweets by the Kings and the Epiphany is a public holiday every year!

Check out our other language posts

This has been contributed by LAE Madrid, the leading Spanish academy in Madrid. Accredited by the Insitituto Cervantes, it offers Spanish courses for all levels and also has Spanish classes for kids and families.

READ MORE: Ten magical ways to give your kids the best Spanish Christmas ever

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Spanish Word of the Day: ‘Chachi’

Who would’ve thought that there’s a word used all the time in Spain that has something to do with Winston Churchill? Or so the story goes. 

Spanish Word of the Day: 'Chachi'

Chachi is a colloquial way to express approval for something or someone, in the sense of it/them being cool, awesome or great.

It’s mainly a word used by young people in Spain, so saying it to your bank manager or boss may raise an eyebrow or two, but it’s in no way derogatory or rude.

There’s even the expression ¡Chachi piruli Juan Pelotilla! that was popularised by a 90s’ kids show on TV called Telebuten, but it’s now a rather outdated way of saying ‘cool’ in Spanish. 

Chachi is certainly a rather bizarre sounding word and Spain’s Royal Academy actually has it recorded as deriving from chanchi (which nobody uses).

Linguists are not 100 percent certain about the origin of the word but there are two very interesting theories. 

The first is that chachi was first coined in the southern coastal city of Cádiz during World War II, at a time where hunger among locals and contraband at the port were both rife.

Smuggled goods from nearby Gibraltar were considered of the utmost quality as they came from the United Kingdom, and the story goes that Gaditanos (the name for people from Cádiz) referred to these bootlegged products as ‘charchil’, in reference to UK Prime Minister at the time Winston Churchill.

Over time, charchil became chachi, a slang word which (if the story is true) came to mean ‘cool’ across Spain.

Other philologists believe that chachi comes from Caló, the language spoken by Spain’s native gipsy or Roma population. 

Chachipé or chachipen reportedly means ‘truth’ or ‘reality’ in this language spoken by 60,000 people across the Iberian Peninsula.

This could’ve been shortened to chachi and gone from being used like chachi que sí/claro que sí (of course) to chachi to mean ‘cool’.

Whichever theory is true, chachi is a great word to add to your arsenal of Spanish vocab. 

There’s also the Spanish word guay, which has a very similar meaning to chachi; we reviewed it here.


Carlos es un tío chachi. 

Carlos is a cool guy.

¡Pásalo chachi!

Have a great time!

La verdad es que es juego de mesa muy chachi.

The truth is it’s a very cool board game.

¡Qué chachi! Van a hacer un concierto en la plaza.

How cool! They’re going to hold a concert in the square.