Christmas is celebrated in a slightly different way here in Spain. It is a much more low key affair, with an important family dinner served on the evening of December 24th , and the children receiving their presents from the Three Kings in a larger celebration on January 6th.
`El Dia de los Reyes` celebrates the adoration of the baby Jesus by the Magi. Children leave empty shoes near the front door or window, hoping to find them filled with treats, and traditionally the Three Kings arrive in each village and town in a huge ,colourful parade, throwing sweets to the spectators, something that we enjoyed taking part in last year, here in Maro.
This year, as most things have been, it will be a very different scene. As that infamous quote from a film says, “and Christmas is cancelled! “. Well not quite. But This Christmas , we stay at home, with bars and restaurants closing at 6pm ,and the curfew at 10pm changing to 1.30 am on December the 24th ,25th, 31st, and January 1st.
We had booked a few days stay for Christmas in the El Molino de Arco, the most lovely hotel set in its own vineyard, situated just outside Ronda, a place we have yet to visit. My son was joining us, but now, he has to remain in the UK of course , so our trip has been re-booked for Easter. Fingers crossed.
Tomorrow is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which marks the beginning of the religious Christmas celebrations, and the traditional day in Spain to decorate your house.
But it was with a slightly heavy heart that I got out our Christmas decorations yesterday, thinking that it was going to be just the two of us here for Christmas. We are still waiting to see if friends who live up the coast in Javea are allowed to travel, ( albeit not to their original destination of Tarifa), and can now join us here for a few days for Christmas, (we will celebrate the Spanish way with a feast of a traditional dinner on Christmas Eve). ( Help ! where do I find a Turkey!).
I have to say it seems unlikely that they will be coming though, as Andalucia has different restrictions from Valencia….
In the meantime ,I have just marzipan-ed my Christmas cake, it has had so much brandy added to it, that it almost slipped off the plate! ,and the other day we walked just outside of the village, and gathered dried fennel stalks in the sun. It was a beautiful day. A happy memory.
Said fennel twigs have been sprayed white, I have decorated them with our collection of sparkling glass baubles and trinkets ,and they are now in a white pot ,pride of place on our dining table. This is instead of having a Christmas tree, which we would normally have , but a pretty substitute nevertheless.
All our collected-over-the-years tree decorations are in storage in the UK, and these are a selection bought over the last couple of years especially for our Spanish house. There are glass lemons, oranges and avocados, fish, shells, palm trees , cactus ,and quirky parrots in pops of colour,(all bought online-mostly from Vondels and Graham and Green), all chosen as they are relevant to our life here in the sun.
On the outside of our house, we have hung brightly strings of pom poms , and folding tissue paper globes in orange, pink and turquoise, a rainbow of Christmas decorating the white painted façade-giving the house an air of fiesta or party -even though that’s not really happening this year!