Sunday, January 13, 2019

Christmas + Holidays 2018

I know it seems like we are well past the holiday season, but here in Spain it just ended last week!  I wrote about how Spain does the holiday season here which typically starts around the first weekend in December but it doesn't end until Dia de los Reyes or Three Kings Day which is January 6th.

My parents were here during the entire holiday season in Spain which made it so much more amazing and fun to have them with us!  We started our holiday season off in Germany going on an epic Christmas market trip.  We also took my parents to Arcos for their Live Nativity event (which is simply amazing and should be seen at least once). 

On Christmas Eve we had a wonderful dinner with very close friends of ours, starting off the evening by having drinks at our favorite beach bar (called a chiringuito).  We didn't have too late of a night because we all had to get home to go to bed so Santa could come!  Serafina was totally into Santa this year and it made it that much more fun -- she wrote a letter, happily sat on his lap telling him what she wanted!
Santa does come to the kids in Spain but much less. maybe just a small gift.  There isn't a Santa at the mall where you get your picture taken and tell him what you want (we do all of that on base)... Kids aren't talking about what Santa is bringing them or what they got from Santa.  Christmas is still a large holiday in Spain, but it is not typically celebrated with all the presents.  

Christmas morning was so much fun!  Serafina was so beyond excited to see that Santa ate the cookies she left out (and drank the milk) and to see all the presents that were left under the tree.  She was completely into opening presents and helping everyone else open presents -- it was so much fun to watch her!  We then had some good friends over for a big Christmas brunch, everyone still wearing their pajamas.  It was a lot of fun and we loved every minute of it!

My parents were still here for New Years so Trevor and I were able to hit the town (of Rota) to experience the big huge street party and group grape eating!  We started out at a good friend's house and then made our way to one of the main plazas in town.  At midnight as the clock was striking we all shoveled grapes into our mouths, laughing and trying not to choke!
I seriously love the Spanish traditions -- eating grapes at midnight to signify luck/wishes for the coming year.  Some say each great represents a month of good luck, others say your wish(es) for the year will come true if you eat all of your grapes.  At each chime of the clock (at midnight), you eat one grape, in theory eating them all.  We cheat and get the small/seedless/peeled grapes.  My Spanish teacher tells me that is not the fun way to do it :)  Serafina's school had a party on the last day before vacation and the kids had their own new years countdown and ate these corn puff things instead of grapes -- so adorable!

And the season is not over yet -- because on January 5th is easily one of my most favorite events in Spain.  The cabalgata (parade) of Los Reyes (the Kings) coming through the city in anticipation of leaving gifts for all the children that evening to open the next morning.  This is Spain's big huge holiday -- Dia de los Reyes on January 6th.  Children write letters to the Kings, sit on their laps telling them what presents they want.  Everyone wishes you a happy holiday and that they Kings bring you many gifts and all that you want!  The Kings even go to each school (at least in our town) and the kids get to visit with them and write letters -- Serafina was SO excited to come home one day before vacation started and tell me all about her visit with the Kings!   

So on January 5th, we went out into town with everyone else and to watch the cabalgata parade through the city.  The parade is not long (maybe 8-10 floats and it moves fairly quickly) but it sure is fun.  Each float throws hard candy (and by throw, I really mean chuck, pelt, throw very hard) at the crowd.  Each King has their own float and they throw toys in addition to the candy -- typically big blow up balls, stuffed animals and other soft-ish/random stuff.  It is pure chaos and so much fun.  Everyone is flying for the toys and candy, you're ducking and covering your head to protect yourself from the hard candy being thrown because it does hurt when you get hit.  And so much laughter.  Serafina freaking LOVED it -- was so so so into it.  Because our town is small, you tend to go to a few different spots along the route which makes it so much more fun.

how adorable are my parents :)

Then we all woke up on January 6th with more presents -- the Kings came to our house!
You leave your shoes out so the Kings leave the presents next to/in your shoes, just like Santa leaving presents under the tree.  The Kings get all over Spain using camels. no magical flying reindeer and sleigh for them so you can also leave out treats for the camels who are making a long journey across the country.

Then finally (or sadly) the holiday season is over... Kids go back to school and life resumes.  But don't forget that rebajas (or sales) start January 7th :)

And for fun -- a little throw back to the past two cabalgatas for los Reyes

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