Street lighting, carols, lottery, decorated trees, nativity figures and marzipan are some of the things that welcome the arrival of Christmas time to Spain, a country with a deep Christian tradition. Although it is changing, most of the Spaniards take theses holidays to sit with their family and loved ones around a table. Some others, like those captivated by the ghost of Christmas, think about what they have done, and promise themselves to change and give something away. And there is also someone who just does not care about it, as he feels it is fake, sad and materialistic. Either way, Spain is huge and although, in general we share the same way of celebration, like eating twelve grapes on New Year’s Eve for example, there are some traditions that belong to specific parts of the territory.
In the Basque Country, for example, there is not Santa Claus, but “Olentzero”, a man coming down from the mountains the night of the 24th of December with presents for the young ones. In the region of León, people decorate their house with a type of handmade crown called “ramo leonés” which consists of ribbons, threads and different kinds of dried fruits in the base. Everything is being held together by a wooden stick. Twelve candles are placed at the top of the structure and while lighting up those lights, the people wish to brighten their next twelve months.
But let’s be honest. If there is something truly expected by children it is the arrival of the Three Wise Men, the night of the fifth of January. In the south, in Algeciras, it takes place along the streets. A “noisy” dragging can parade, in order to remember that the Three kings come to town and leave something nice for us. The morning after, the sixth of January, there will be gifts under the Christmas tree and a delicious large ring shaped cake called “Roscón de Reyes” will be waiting for us at the breakfast table. Inside, there is a hidden figurine but also a bean. The person who finds the bean will pay the cake, but this fortunate person that discovers the figurine will become…KING FOREVER! (or at least this is what we have been told since we were little). To dream from time to time…is not that bad. Come what may, ¡Feliz Navidad!
Written by Ana Valiente, AEGEE-Tenerife