KEY POINTS: What changes about life in Spain in December 2022

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KEY POINTS: What changes about life in Spain in December 2022
What changes in Spain in December from cold snaps to cheaper medicines. Photos: Sushuti (Pixabay), Alvaro Araoz (Unsplash) & Myriam Zilles (Unsplash)

From Christmas festivities and public holidays to the latest on the Startups Law and a new Madrid-Valencia train, become a member to find out about all the important changes in Spain in the last month of 2022.


Puentes and Christmas holidays

December is of course the month when the Christmas holidays take place, but even before that there are several public holidays to enjoy. These take place during the week of December 5th to the 11th, with Tuesday the 6th being Spanish Constitution Day and Thursday December 8th the Day of the Immaculate Conception. Both days are national public holidays across all regions.


Because of this, many workers decide to take a ‘puente’ or bridge the two public holidays together and take an extra vacation day in between. This could either be taking December 5th as a holiday and having a long weekend from the 3rd to the 6th or taking Friday the 9th off work and taking a break between the 8th and the 11th.

This year Christmas Day, December 25th falls on a Sunday, so the public holiday will be moved to Monday, December 26th in most regions across Spain.


Medicines are getting cheaper

More than 17,000 different types of medications will be getting cheaper in Spain next month, officially coming into force on Tuesday, November 29th. Spain’s Health Ministry estimates that this could save up to €270.89 million – €229 million in hospitals and €41.75 million in pharmacies. The Minimum Reference Price for medicines will now be set at €1.60.

It’s important to remember though, that people will not see the difference in price in the pharmacies until January 1st 2023, as the distributors will maintain the previous sale price until December 31st 2022.


New Madrid-Valencia train

Iryo, Spain's brand-new third train operator, kickstarted its operations in the country on Friday November 25th with its Madrid-Barcelona route.

On Friday December 16th, it will launch its Madrid-Valencia line (via Cuenca), which takes 1 hour and 53 minutes to complete the journey.

The average cost per one-way ticket is €18 according to Iryo. Tickets are already on sale.

READ MORE: What to know about Iryo, Spain’s newest high-speed low-cost trains


Flying to Spain in December or at Christmas

Airline strikes by Vueling and Ryanair and an increase in passengers could make travelling this winter a little more challenging.

According to Spain’s airport operator Aena, the number of airline tickets sold for travel to Spain over the winter season is set to exceed the number in 2019-2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last winter saw the rise of the Omicron variant and some countries introduced new restrictions, so many foreign residents decided not to go back to see their families over the holidays. This means that this year could see more people wanting to return after several years of not having celebrated together with their families. 

Therefore, airports could be particularly busy this December, so make sure you leave plenty of time for getting through security and passport control.

We have a separate explainer on everything you need to know if you’re travelling to Spain in December or at Christmas, covering the rules, the least busy travel times, the strikes, the free travel deals and what you can’t check in.


New law about toy advertising 

From December 1st 2022, Spanish toy makers and advertisers cannot stop feature boys exclusively with cars and soldiers, and girls playing with dolls on their packaging and publicity.

The protocol will prohibit the “exclusive association” of girls with toys that reproduce roles of “caregiving, domestic work or beauty” and boys with “action, physical activity or technology”.

READ MORE: Spain moves to end gender stereotypes in toy adverts


Spain could experience Arctic weather

After such a scorching summer with various heatwaves, plus the hottest month since records began in July and the hottest October on record, perhaps it’s time for Spain to experience a cold snap. Weather experts believe that December could see cold air flow from the Arctic, which will produce extended periods of rain.

The spokesman for Spain’s State Meteorological Agency AEMET, Ruben del Campo said that a cold snap “couldn’t be ruled out” and that the Artic weather could arrive “in the coming weeks”. “Right now it’s impossible to say exactly when and where, though,” he continued.

One effect of this cold snap will be heavier and more frequent rains, more like the amount of rain that was seen in the spring of 2018.


EU to reach a gas deal

At the end of November, the EU agreed to postpone its agreement on a price cap for gas purchases between different member states until December. Spain’s Minister of Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera said that she hopes the European Commission can reach a deal on December 13th at the next meeting of the Energy Council.

The EU originally suggested a gas "safety ceiling" of €275 per megawatt hour as the bloc grapples with high energy prices spurred by Moscow's war in Ukraine and supply cuts. The only time the TTF gas price has gone above the €275 limit, however, was between August 22nd and 29th this year and Ribera has been very critical of the proposal.

These conditions are designed to particularly satisfy Germany and the Netherlands who are very reluctant to sign a deal.


Events in December

The festive month is filled with all kinds of activities and events in Spain besides Christmas. The Carnavalcázar de Alcázar de San Juan in Castilla-La Mancha will take place, being the only town in Spain to celebrate its carnival in December.  

On December 24th the musical performances of Canto de la Sibila will be held in churches across the island of Mallorca, a tradition which has been inscribed onto UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Then on December 28th, Spain celebrates the Día de los Santos Inocentes (Day of the Holy Innocents), its version of April Fools when people play pranks and jokes throughout the day.

New Year’s Eve or Noche Vieja is also a big deal in Spain, with plenty of parties, family dinners and the tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight to bring good luck for the year ahead.


Could a UK licence deal finally become reality?

On November 18th, the UK Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott confirmed that “two outstanding issues” delaying negotiations have now been resolved. 

“What I can’t tell you today is exactly how many weeks those final steps will take," he added.

The remaining processes include legal checks, securing ministerial approval on both sides, which for Spain is by the Consejo de Ministros (the Spanish Cabinet), and the necessary treaty processes and formal exchanges, explained Elliott.

“At that point (when the law comes into force) you will then have six months to exchange your UK licence for a Spanish one and during that time you will be able to drive using your existing valid UK licence,” he confirmed.

READ MORE: Deal on UK licences in Spain agreed but still no exchange date


Works scheduled on Madrid Metro

Metro Madrid has confirmed that during the month of December it will close line 7 in order to remove asbestos from the tunnels. They will close the station Avenida de América from December 3rd to 18th and a free substitute bus service will run for those commuters affected. 

Other lines that stop at Avenida de América - 4, 6 and 9, will not be affected and will work normally.


The final vote on Spain's startups law will take place

The final vote on the much-anticipated startups law and digital nomad visa is due to take place on December 1st by the Congress of Deputies. The law was originally proposed back in 2018. 

If it passes, it means that it will enter into legislation before Christmas, paving the way for many startup companies and digital nomads to make their move to Spain in 2023. 

READ ALSO - Spain’s new digital nomad visa: Everything we know so far


Many transport tickets will continue to be free after December 2022

The Spanish government initially stated that multi-journey train tickets would be free across much of Spain on Cercanías, Rodalies and Media Distancia trains from September-December 2022, however, this has been extended into 2023. 

Spain's Budget Minister María Jesús Montero announced the move in October saying that it will be extended until at least December 2023 when the measure's economic and environmental impact will be evaluated. 

At the end of November, the Spanish government also announced that many long-distance buses will go from being half-price to free in 2023.


Inflation is showing signs of slowing down in December

Inflation stood at 6.8 percent in November, according to Spain's National Institute of Statistics (INE) and for the fourth consecutive month it has been falling, since a high of 10.8 percent in July, the highest level seen in 38 years. 

This means that inflation could continue to ease in December, making Christmas shopping just that little bit kinder on our wallets. Of course shopping for Christmas dinner will still be more expensive than in 2021, but will be much more affordable than if we had to buy it in the summer of this year. 

READ ALSO: Which food should you buy early in Spain to save on Christmas costs?


Spain to keep limiting rent increases throughout 2023

The law on limiting the amount landlords can increase the rent by was also due to expire in December 2022, but at the end of November the Spanish government confirmed that this would extend into 2023.

This means that landlords can only increase rent by a maximum of 2 percent throughout 2023, shielding renters from rising inflation.

Prior to this many landlords had the right to increase the price of the rent on a yearly basis based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the figure used to measure inflation.



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