Off topic: In Spain Christmas is over the seventh of January
Thread poster: Maria Luisa Duarte

Maria Luisa Duarte  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:54
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Jan 2, 2004

Hi all!

If you have never spent Christmas Holidays in Spain, the following article explains quite well this festive season and how the Spanish live it.

All the best and have a very Happy New Year!
MLD


It is the time to celebrate; it is Christmas! We call it Navidad, and ours is a little bit longer than celebrated in most other countries, and with very characteristic traditions. You could say that we are a little old fashion about it, but we do sure know how to party!

In many cities and towns, preparations for Christmas begin at the beginning of the month of December, as they begin to decorate the streets with colorful lights with Christmas motifs, such as snow flakes, bells, bows, , or with words that celebrate Christmas ("¡Feliz Navidad!",etc). Added to this, are all of the special lights and adornments placed by the big stores in the cities..."Wait! you said that Christmas was unique!" And you are right!

For example, the Christmas season per se starts at the beginning of December, and basically finishes on the 8th of January. "Why so long?" We'll, you see, Christmas has three very distinct celebrations. First, Christmas' Eve, or Noche Buena as we call it, and Christmas itself on the 25th of December; New Year's Eve or Noche Vieja; and King's Day, or Vispera de Reyes. And now let us explain each a little more...

1. Noche Buena and Navidad:
It is quite normal to spend this night with your loved ones (some people get together on the 26th, El Día de San Esteban--St. Steven's' Day). And it is normal to make it a feast, with a traditional recipe (this one basically changes according to the family), eating turrón (nougat), and singing villancicos (Christmas carols). As you may know, Spain is a traditionally Catholic nation, and it is quite normal that many families attend evening mass on the 24th as well. Christmas, eventhough in many families this is fast changing, is not the time to exchange gifts. But we'll get to that later. So, you may say that Santa's are not as busy as the Kings (Beltsasar, Gaspar, and Melcior) are!

2. Noche Vieja:
Well, this is a celebration with freedom; some spend it out in bars, restaurants, clubs, and other places where they meet with friends; others just spend the celebration with the family. Whatever place you may find yourself,...you are sure to make instant friend in Spain! But, there are to things that are typical of this celebration, and one of them is as Spanish as Spain itself. The first one is the celebration of the New Year with cava. This is Spanish Champagne and it is excellent! The second is the celebration of the 12 gongs at 12:00 am of the 1st. Of January with the eating of the twelve grapes. This is a fun and yet tricky thing, ..."Why so?" We'll try to eat and swallow twelve grapes in twelve seconds! ...Now you can imagine! Nevertheless, the idea behind it is that if you are able to eat all twelve in twelve seconds, you will have a prosperous new year. "But ,...how do you know when twelve o'clock is?" Well, decades ago, in many families the patriarch would pick up a pan or pot and just go at it hitting it twelve times. Today, however, La Puerta del Sol in Madrid rules on that day! There is a clock on top the La Puerta, and when the twelve sound, you 'd better be ready to start gulping those grapes. Just one word of advice, before the twelve official gongs, there are the cuartos, four gongs of a higher pitch that announce and prepare you for the twelve. Many people confuse them with the actual twelve; beware of the Cuartos!

3. El Día de Reyes:
King's Day creates a frenzy in families, little children, and stores all over Spain. This is the traditional holiday, and the "last--minute--waiters" rush through stores and commercials to find the needed gifts they kept on putting off. Children go to bed early; some even search the skies for the Kings and their party as they cross the night from home to home placing gifts and pastries in each house. This is the time to wrap gifts, and open the closets to prepare them for the morning, and seeing in the outstanding expressions of the children their cheer and merriment. Also, bakeries prepare coal, blackened/grayish sugar lumps that look very much like coal, which is given to children, more as a joke than anything else.

Oh, my! And there is so much to tell yet! For example: nougat. There are many kinds of nougat or turrón. The typical are Jijona (beige colored made with almonds, honey, etc.), Alicante (this is the hard nougat) and Yema (traditionally made with egg and much like marzipan with browned sugar on top). However now there are many kinds of nougat: marzipan, marzipan with fruits, chocolate, chocolate/truffle , chocolate/truffle and liquors, and the list could go on for several pages...
Our Christmas carols are as varied as Spain. Being that there are four major cultural groups, each has its own traditional carols; the only thing that it is maintain through is the theme of the manger. We should add here that it is very normal to find, and in many places the children are in charge of it, to have a manger scene somewhere visible in the house. These manger scenes are complete with towns, buildings and towns people; sheep, shepherds and angles; traveling men and women; animals (chickens, cows, horses, donkeys, etc..); and of course the 3 kings with their entourage. The scenes are finished with grass or moss, a river and a bridge, sand, earth, and any other ideas you may think of! In many homes, the kings and their entourage is advanced a little closer to the manger as the days go by, until the 5th of January, when the kings arrive to the manger and deliver their gifts.

As you can see, explaining Christmas in Spain is no easy task, and yet, we've tried to cover the most important aspects of the same. However, there is nothing like experiencing it for yourself. This year on New Year's Eve try to eat twelve grapes at the sound of twelve gongs (each a second away), and you may get a glimpse of what the celebration may be.
© COPYRIGHT CYBERSPAIN: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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xxxPaul Roige
Spain
Local time: 20:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
... which is quite interesting, actually Jan 2, 2004

Lemme see... Jesus was born in December 25th, then the Three Wise Men (not an Scorsese movie) arrive almost two weeks later. We all know they travelled by camel and that these creatures can be fairly slow, also it is possible they had a few overcast nights and thus they kept on going around in circles for they didn't have a clue where that shooting star was. Not to forget desert traffic jams, pipe smoko breaks and the dropping of presents at every single dune ("Balthy, you dropped the holy incense again!!!", "Mel, my camel stepped on your crown!!"). Most important of all, they were pre-Iberian procrastinators. The Magi were the philosophers behind that most basic principle of life South of the Pyrinnees (and of payment practices for translators):
"¡Mañana, mañana!"
We are though eternally grateful to them. Well, not all of us. Children ( I once was one of them, I'm told) never understood why they have to receive their presents only two or three days before the Christmas holidays are over.
If only the Magi had used sleighs like Santa, or even sandboards with a windsail!
One way or another, long live the Three Wise Men, however late they are!
P


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Vuk Vujosevic  Identity Verified
Montenegro
Local time: 20:54
English to Serbian
+ ...
Christmas Jan 2, 2004

Can it be that you are still celebrating Christmas according both Calendars. Funny???
Well Ortodox Church still uses old Calendar set by Julius and the Christmas Eve is on 24th December or 6th January according New Calendar.
So anyway, you can celebrate both in my country, Serbia and Montenegro.
If you want to know more, please write.
Vuk


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:54
German to Italian
+ ...
In Italy Jan 3, 2004

Paul Roigé wrote:

Well, not all of us. Children ( I once was one of them, I'm told) never understood why they have to receive their presents only two or three days before the Christmas holidays are over.
If only the Magi had used sleighs like Santa, or even sandboards with a windsail!
One way or another, long live the Three Wise Men, however late they are!
P


Thanks for your funny explanation Paul. However, children are luckier in Northern Italy (or at least in Bergamo, my home town, and I think in Venice too): they get presents on the 13th December by St. Lucy. In Milan they usually receive them on the 25th Dec. and in Rome on the 6th of Jan. Need I say more?


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DGK T-I  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:54
Member (2003)
Georgian to English
+ ...
Thanks from me for all these interesting variants Jan 3, 2004

Because of the curiousity of the 7th. of January also being the 25th.of December in the old Julian calendar (in a way) Christmas in Georgia is still to come (although it is true that some people would like to move it to the 25th.Dec (if you see what I mean) so that it comes before the end of the year (in the sense of Dec.31st, rather than other ways of measuring the year...). What a complicated and interesting world.
Best wishes to everyone, whatever festival or holiday they celebrate based on whatever kindly idea
Giuli
~Eng Russ Geo~


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xxxElena Sgarbo  Identity Verified
Italian to English
+ ...
Thanks, Paul!! Jan 3, 2004

Paul Roigé wrote:

Lemme see... Jesus was born in December 25th, then the Three Wise Men (not an Scorsese movie) arrive almost two weeks later. We all know they travelled by camel and that these creatures can be fairly slow, also it is possible they had a few overcast nights and thus they kept on going around in circles for they didn't have a clue where that shooting star was. Not to forget desert traffic jams, pipe smoko breaks and the dropping of presents at every single dune ("Balthy, you dropped the holy incense again!!!", "Mel, my camel stepped on your crown!!).....


:lol::lol:

You always make me laugh!!
E


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 21:54
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
The origin of the name of Savior also is not to be ignored Jan 3, 2004

As the story goes, the doors were low indeed in the barn, and one of the wise man was very tall. On entering, he struck his head against door crossbeam and cried out “Jesus Christ!” after which Maria whispered to Joseph: “Write it down, I think it’s a way better than Moishe…”

[quote]Elena Sgarbossa wrote:

Paul Roigé wrote:

Lemme see... Jesus was born in December 25th, then the Three Wise Men (not an Scorsese movie) arrive almost two weeks later. We all know they travelled by camel and that these creatures can be fairly slow, also it is possible they had a few overcast nights and thus they kept on going around in circles for they didn't have a clue where that shooting star was. Not to forget desert traffic jams, pipe smoko breaks and the dropping of presents at every single dune ("Balthy, you dropped the holy incense again!!!", "Mel, my camel stepped on your crown!!).....



[Edited at 2004-01-03 21:14]


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Thierry LOTTE  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:54
Member (2001)
English to French
+ ...
"·El Gordo" y "El Niño" - · Jan 4, 2004

Maria Luisa Wrote:





In many cities and towns, preparations for Christmas begin at the beginning of the month of December, as they begin to decorate the streets with colorful lights with Christmas motifs, such as snow flakes, bells, bows, , or with words that celebrate Christmas ("¡Feliz Navidad!",etc). Added to this, are all of the special lights and adornments placed by the big stores in the cities..."Wait! you said that Christmas was unique!" And you are right!






There is a special aspect of Xmas which might be also considered as «unique » in Spain and furthermore «unique » in Europe:

It is a tremendous occasion for « gambling » and:

Just like in the whole European countries, Spain organizes a « National Lottery » and every year there are two « Very Big Prices »: « El Gordo » (the big one… on Dec 22th) and « El Niño »… (On Jan 8th)

The first one is paid with a millionaire reward and the second one too…


The event is so important that on the ewe of the drawing, all Spanish TV make a special « Preview » about the various possibilities – considering the statistics – and so on..

The statistics show that, depending on the geographic area, the average investment «per capita » is from 17 € (Asturias) till € 160 (Gerona)…
Which makes and average of 97 € for each gambler in the other Spanish areas…

You wont’ believe it or not, but on these « Sweepstake Days » all TV channels (Commercial ones and National ones) spend 97 % of their time to show up the Spanish winning areas (Major towns, suburbs and else…) and so on…


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xxxPaul Roige
Spain
Local time: 20:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
I believe it, I do... Jan 4, 2004

Thierry LOTTE wrote:
There is a special aspect of Xmas which might be also considered as «unique » in Spain and furthermore «unique » in Europe:
It is a tremendous occasion for « gambling » and:
Just like in the whole European countries, Spain organizes a « National Lottery » and every year there are two « Very Big Prices »: « El Gordo » (the big one… on Dec 22th) and « El Niño »… (On Jan 8th)
The first one is paid with a millionaire reward and the second one too…
The event is so important that on the ewe of the drawing, all Spanish TV make a special « Preview » about the various possibilities – considering the statistics – and so on..
The statistics show that, depending on the geographic area, the average investment «per capita » is from 17 € (Asturias) till € 160 (Gerona)…
Which makes and average of 97 € for each gambler in the other Spanish areas…
You wont’ believe it or not, but on these « Sweepstake Days » all TV channels (Commercial ones and National ones) spend 97 % of their time to show up the Spanish winning areas (Major towns, suburbs and else…) and so on…


Two things always made me wonder though:
1 - the big big fuss about it
2 - the appropriateness of the time.

Umpf!

On the other hand, hey thanks dude!! Now I know why the Magi took 2 weeks to get here. They certainly stopped at the Shooting Star Kashino (Sand Dune no. 855,009 and a half) to play Iberian Sweepstakes, lost the original means of transport and leased to purchase three camels. Santa — mon papa Noël toujours, alors! — meantime, did win the Norwegian Idol Sweepstakes and bought the sleigh and was there right on time.
Voilà, there!
P


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