Spanish Christmas is the main and beloved feast in Spain. Every year it is expected by everybody: the children and the adults, the rich and the poor, the believers and non believers.
Numerous preparations are being started long before the solemn Day One of the characteristic and popular Christmas Spain facts, is to make Belens. They are made at peoples’ homes, at schools, at public and particular offices. The most imposing one is the Belen of Ayuntamiento. It may be located in various rooms, showing the events of that Solemn Night, starting with the travel of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joith to Belen, the scene of the Holy Family with Saint Baby Issus, surrounded by domestic animals, adoration of the shepherds, and Magi. All the scenes are made with much skill and love. Passing from one room to another one is accompanied with the Holy Belen star, hears charming religious songs and sees small ancient houses with tiny lights in their tiny windows. The illusion appears that one has moved through the period of two thousand years and is living in Jerusalem or in Belen.
Squares and Streets at Spanish Christmas
And nowadays, at Christmas, all the streets of Spanish cities, towns and villages acquire picturesque decoration. One of the most fascinating things is the festive Christmas illumination. It is set on roofs, windows and doors of houses, lamp posts, trees. The latter seem, practically like coloured clouds, beaming in the night twilights and darkness. The main decoration of the principle squares, are Árboles de Navidad (Christmas trees), – the centre of each square. Round the squares there are a lot of smart kiosks and tents, they form real fairs. Here, people may do a lot of important things. Such as – to buy flappers, tinsel, various toys in order to make their home Árboles de Navidad as beautiful as possible. One more thing, which cannot be forgotten is the Flor de Pascua (poinsettia) – a plant with red leaves, innate to Christmas. Any fair has the most necessary kiosk for children – the one, where they may write and give a letter to Papá Noel (Santa Claus), asking him for the presents, which they have been dreaming of, for the whole year. He, himself is always sitting in the kiosk, asking boys and girls and their parents how the children have been behaving, since the previous Christmas.
Here and there, along the streets one can see artificial braziers, where wonderful Spanish chestnuts are being fried. They are so fragrant, so hot and so nice to be eaten in a chilly November – December evening!!!
Shop-windows of small shops and enormous department stores are sparkling; doors and pavements are emanating fragrance; goods are pleading to be bought!
Something special is a Spanish panadería-confitería (bakery-confectionery), and it is more special still, at Christmas. You do not have to ask anybody where it is, your nose will lead you! Streets are smelling with vanilla, nutmeg, hot chocolate and what not appetizing and festive. Roscones, turrones, bollos dulces, polvorones, and many other things. The air itself seems to be eatable!
Christmas in a Traditional Spanish Family
Spanish Christmas traditions are strictly held in traditional Spanish families. Normally, the richest family, or the oldest members invite the rest of the relatives to their place. The house is decorated, Christmas tree is sparkling with lights and festive table is laid. All the guests are beautifully dressed. Somebody may bring his/her favourite homemade dish, which is traditional and liked by everybody. The most important people at Christmas are children, of course. They are given lots of sweet meat and presents. People talk, dance, sing billanzicos (Christmas carols). The Ray congratulates the Spaniards on TV on this solemn occasion.
After that, the people seat at the table. It is full of delicious things, which are not cooked at other days of the year, for they may be: for special occasions: (roscón – a big round eclair with lots of cream); may take too much time to be cooked (various fish and meat dishes) or simply, may be too expensive to be bought every day (langosta – locust). There are various types of wonderful Spanish Jámon at the table; the most fresh fruit and vegetables, as to the wines – the Spanish wines, and Champaign, of course. It is rather expensive and is bought for exclusive occasion, such as Christmas and some other solemn days. The people, – believers, go to their churches to participate in the Christian Solemn Mass, others may see it on TV from Vatican.
The Christmas starts
The Christmas Mass starts at twelve o’clock all over Spain. The rest people, at twelve o’clock raised their wineglasses. – La Noche Buena is proclaimed (Christmas Eve), all the guests congratulate each other with the words: “!Feliz Navidad! (Merry Christmas!)” A beautiful candlestick with a burning candle is put on a windowsill. All the guests are exchanging presents. The presents may absolutely different, everything one can imagine. The richest man of the family presents other men of the family with silver coins, as a symbol of future richness for everybody. This night is quiet and peaceful. According to Christmas traditions in Spain, in traditional Spaniard it is not accepted either sing loud songs, or listen to loud music, or dance noisy dances. They are for la Noche Vieja (the New Year). At Christmas Eve people sing billanzicos, tell touching Christmas stories and eat sweet meat and fruit.
The majority of young people after having eaten festive supper with the elder members of the family, after having exchanged presents and not being as much traditionalists walk along the streets with their friends, sing, dance, feel happy.