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CHRISTMAS

Where to find traditional British Christmas food in Spain

Here's where Britons can find all their favourite British Christmas treats if they're staying in Spain for the holidays this year or find that they can't bring them back due to the customs rules that now apply after Brexit.

mince pies in Spain
Where to buy mince pies and other British Christmas treats in Spain. Photo: bluemorphos / Pixabay

While Covid-19 is still making travel somewhat tricky this year, many foreigners will be staying in Spain for the festive Christmas period, instead of going back to their home countries to spend time with family. 

While it may mean missing friends and family, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean missing out on the things that make it feel like a traditional Christmas. Mince pies, Christmas puddings and crackers can be a little tricky to find in some places in Spain, but it’s not impossible.

Those that are going back for Christmas may find that as a result of Brexit, they can’t bring their usual treats back with them such as chocolates, sweets, fudge and custard. 

This is because of the EU’s strict customs rules, meaning that imports of animal-derived products brought from outside of the common market are banned or strictly controlled, including anything containing milk, cream, gelatine and the suet you find in your mince pies. 

READ ALSO: Christmas travel between Spain and the UK: What can I not pack in my suitcase?

The Local’s Esme Fox has scoured the country to find the best places to source your British Christmas treats, for those who can’t bring it back with them or who don’t feel quite up to the task of making it all from scratch!

READ ALSO – KEY POINTS: What are the new Covid travel rules between Spain and the UK?

Spain-wide

Overseas Supermarkets stock a range of different British products, including many from Iceland and Waitrose. They have branches across the Costa del Sol, the Costa Blanca, Alicante, the Canary Islands, Ibiza, Murcia and Almeria. They sell British Christmas stapes including mince pies, Christmas pudding, ginger sponge pudding and Christmas cake, among others.  

The Food Co. a chain of British supermarkets that opened its doors across Spain in 2019, and have branches in Puerto de Mazarrón, Ibiza, Mijas and Ciudad Quesada in Alicante. They sell mostly Tesco-branded products, as well as other much-loved British treats.

Taste of America stores can be found in many of the major cities in Spain including Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla and Valencia. While they stock mainly American holiday treats such as candy canes and cranberry sauce, they do sometimes sell British items too.

British Christmas

British Christmas fare in Spain. Photo: Jill Wellington / Pixabay
 

The gourmet food section of El Corte Ingles is always a good place to look when searching for anything out of the ordinary that you can’t find in the regular supermarkets here. You should be able to find a selection of mince pies and they sometimes stock Christmas crackers too.

Homeware store Muy Mucho, which has branches across the country and sells things such as boxes of Christmas crackers, candy canes and Christmas hot chocolate with marshmallows. Furniture and homeware store Maisons du Monde also sell Christmas crackers. 

Dealz, which is similar to a Poundland-type shop also often sells British favourites and can be found in Madrid, Valencia, Malaga, Alicante, and various towns on the Costa del Sol.

While it’s easy to make your own mulled wine, if you want to buy it instead, both Ikea and Lidl have good alternatives. Ikea sells the Swedish version called glogg, while Lidl has the traditional German glühwein. Lidl also has a great selection of German and Italian Christmas treats in case you’re missing those too, from gingerbread biscuits to panettone

Barcelona

If you’re spending the holidays in Barcelona, the best place to pick up your traditional British Christmas fair is A Taste of Home supermarket, which also has branches just down the coast in Sitges and in Cubelles. They stock everything from Christmas crackers and Christmas puddings to brandy sauce, stuffing mix and chocolate selection boxes.

Valencia

Mercat Central Valencia has a specialist British food stall which sells Christmas must-haves such as mince pies, Christmas puddings, crackers and golden syrup to make those all-important Christmas gingerbread men.

Christmas pudding

Find out where you can buy your Christmas puddings in Spain. Photo: Matt Seymour / Unsplash

Andalusia

Andalusia is one of the easiest regions in Spain to source any British products, including Christmas ones, due to the number of Brits living there and the international shops and supermarkets.

As well as the Overseas stockists of Iceland and Waitrose and the new Food Co. there are Marks & Spencer stores in Marbella and Malaga. Overseas Supermarkets can be found in Puerto Banus, Mijas and Pueblo Nuevo, among others.

Madrid 

While a few years ago there used to be several British shops in Madrid, the Covid-19 pandemic seemed to put an end to most of them. Luckily, Living in London has reopened and continues to sell a range of Christmas puddings, mince pies, cranberry sauce, jars of brandy butter, and biscuits. 

Americans in Madrid may want to check out Yummy Planet, which sells a whole range of imported goods, from cherry and apple pie filling to candy and cake and cookie mixes. 

Go for the Spanish experience! 

Spain of course has its own Christmas traditions and this being Spain, food is at the very heart of it. Don’t miss out on trying seasonal treats such as Roscón de Reyes cake, turrón, polvorónes and so much more!

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For members

BANKING

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

UK nationals living in Spain have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change. Have you been affected?

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Spain and other EU countries have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. 

A number of readers of The Local’s network of news websites have contacted us to report receiving either letters or messages in their online banking telling them that their accounts would be closed because of their residency in Spain or in other countries in the EU.

A Barclays spokesperson told The Local: “As a ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.

“We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”  

Customers are being given six months to make alternative arrangements. The changes affect all personal current accounts or savings accounts, but do not affect ISAs, loans or mortgages.

During the Brexit transition period Barclays closed Barclaycard accounts of customers in Spain, but did not indicate any changes to standard bank accounts.

READ MORE: 

Around the same time several other British high street banks began closing accounts of British customers who live in the EU, although with the exception of Barclaycard customers in Spain who were largely spared.

Many UK nationals who live in Spain maintain at least one UK bank account – in addition to a Spanish account – sometimes just for savings but others use their accounts regularly to receive income such as pensions or income from rental property or – for remote workers – to receive income for work done in the UK.

Not having a UK bank account can make financial transactions in the UK more complicated or incur extra banking fees.

READ MORE: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Spain?

Since Brexit, the UK banking sector no longer has access to the ‘passporting’ system which allows banks to operate in multiple EU countries without having to apply for a separate banking licence for each country.

And it seems that many UK high street banks are deciding that the extra paperwork is not worth the hassle and are withdrawing completely from certain EU markets. 

When British banks began withdrawing services from customers in the EU back in 2020, a UK government spokesman told British newspaper The Times that “the provision of banking services is a commercial decision for firms based on a number of factors” so Brits in Spain probably shouldn’t hold their breath for any help from that direction.

READ ALSO: Premium Bond holders in Spain may have to cash in if no UK bank account

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