A belated post about the Spanish Christmas celebrations; I have stolen some time every now and then to check other blogs but haven’t had the opportunity to really sit down and write something myself. At the moment O is playing with our 3½ year old niece**, which means that I finally have some time for blogging. The niece is so much fun and she likes her Swedish tía and tío O a lot since she visited us (with her mother and grandmother) in Puerto Rico last year, so I am not complaining about “baby-sitting”.
So, how was the Spanish Christmas? Well, very different from the Swedish (and Puerto Rican last year), except when it comes to EATING A LOT which you do in all three countries 😉 I guess that one difference between Swedish and Spanish traditions is that in Sweden we need more light so people decorate more their homes and gardens with lights, and in Spain the presents are traditionally given at Epiphany (el día de los reyes) in January.
Here are some photos to illustrate my first Spanish Christmas:
It was pouring down with rain when we arrived to Spain on Xmas Eve morning, while Xmas day was sunny but cold.
I was prepared for winter with lots of thick jumpers and boots, plus flannel PJs and angora socks for sleeping… Our bed was made with a duvet (edredón in Spanish, from ejderdun in “Scandinavian”!) for once (not just a thin blanket) and an electric radiator had been installed in our bedroom – a great “Xmas present” from my sister-in-law!!
The afternoon on the 24th felt like any other afternoon in the village. My brother-in-law No 3 (J-I who visited us a few weeks ago) was busy working in the shop and O was helping him out, and I was playing with the niece…
This drawing above was actually as close as we got to a Xmas tree! Ironically enough O and I put away the tree in JULY when we were here last time!!! Nobody had bothered to take it down before, and nobody had thought about getting it up now (and it was too dark to go and get it from an un-lit storage room when we thought about it).
We braved the cold wind and walked to one of the local supermarket to get some last supplies. Unfortunately they didn’t have any Xmas wrapping paper so our presents looked more like birthday presents than something that Father Christmas (Papá Noel) could have brought.
Some of you might remember my post about not using cutting boards in Spain… My sister-in-law prepared lots of yummy tapas and a delicious fruit salad, while brother-in-law No 2 and his German girlfriend took care of cutting the ham. I am not sure what O was doing, but I had the role of baby-sitter / photographer.
El jamón that we have been eating every day – I actually prefer this to the Swedish Xmas ham. The foreigners in the family, i.e the German and Swede were shown by our mother-in-law how you first wash and dry the whole ham before starting to cut…
Papá Noel did leave some presents for the youngest family member, of course all the presents were pink (including a “Princess computer”)! I am not sure gender-neutral toys exist in Spain? 😕 O & I brought presents for everybody from the outlet shops (and Marshalls) in Puerto Rico, they were highly appreciated!!
Another present was a technical up-grade for the whole family: the TV from 1982*** was finally retired, not that it didn’t still work, and my parents-in-law are still not entirely convinced of the need to enter the 21st century regarding television but at least now they have a remote control!
Before dinner, we listened to the Spanish 1980’s pop band Mecano (on vinyl!!), but for dinner we switched to my iTunes Xmas play list – of course starting with “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano. It was weird to hear my Spanish sister-in-law hum along to the Swedish Xmas classic “Nu tändas tusen juleljus”!
We had tapas on Xmas Eve, Xmas Day, the 26th… – well, every day except for today! The ham is almost finished now! The table was full of other kinds of tapas, these were only the ones that were served directly on our plates.
After the tapas came the Xmas langostinos (King prawns?)… BIL No 3 ate the most and I told him that he has to come to Sweden in August for a crayfish party!
Spanish (and some German) Xmas sweets, and an Italian panettone in the background…
Spanish fruit salad – lots of fruit juices and liqueurs… very refreshing!
We have been to church twice, on Xmas Day and yesterday. Both days we were still having breakfast 10 minutes mass was supposed to start! Spanish “framförhållning” (planning in advance). On Xmas Day it turned out that the church service didn’t start at 12.30 as we thought, so we arrived in advance at 12.40… My father-in-law, sister-in-law and niece arrived 15 minutes after it had started.
Yesterday we arrived 15 minutes before it ended, ha ha! Oh, and as a protestant I felt that I had the right to refuse to kiss the baby Jesus at the end – I think the whole kissing of statues and holy items is a bit un-hygenic to say the least… There was a big “belén” (nativity scene / julkrubba, also the Spanish name for Bethlehem) in the church and apparently the challenge is to find the figure that is shitting!? I am not sure but I think the melody that was played at the end yesterday was “O Tannenbaum” (!??) which just seemed a little bizarre but maybe it is a religious hymn in Spain? Silent Night / Noche de paz was the second last song at least.
Xmas Day tapas after church – the reward for going to mass! My favourite is “boquerones con olivas” (pickled anchovies with olives), while I prefer skipping all the deep-fried and mayo stuff… We did a tapas round of two different bares de tapas, and at the second one they gave us two bottles of local wine as Xmas presents. Yesterday we went to two other tapas places – I am not sure how many there are in the village of ~3000 inhabitants!?
And as I have already mentioned in a previous post about tapas bars; the rules are 1) you can smoke 2) you throw everything on the floor – cigarette butts, napkins, etc.
Xmas Day dinner at home – more tapas and jamón!
That’s all for today, more posts about Spain will follow. I hope that everyone has had a great Xmas and is now preparing for a happy new year[‘s eve].
*) I don’t know why the Spanish insist on saying everything in plural – buenos días, buenas noches etc)
**) She is by the way fascinated by the snowfall on the blog 😉 I started writing this yesterday at 23.30 and she was still awake, not strange at all because Spanish children don’t seem to go to bed until the adults do… Advantage: they sleep almost as late as the older ones in the morning!!!
***) O claims that they bought the TV to watch the 1982 World Cup in football, which is interesting since nobody in the family seems the least interested in that sport!?