By Regina Winkle-Bryan
It’s that time of year, when merriment, Jack Frost’s bite, and Christmas lighting fill the winding alleyways and grand avenues of Barcelona, Spain. It seems like most of the people I know don’t ‘do’ the holidays. When did I start hanging out with such a bunch of Scroogies? I know Christmas is a religious holiday, and that doesn’t work for some friends, and others still are anti-consumerism, shunning Santa and his sleigh full of trinkets. The list goes on for why one could hate on xmas.
But I can’t help myself. I love holidays – all of them. This is one aspect of Spain that Nancy and I can’t get enough of: the festivity! Spain, Catalonia, the Iberian Peninsula, whatever you want to call it, people here know how to have a good time whether they are hanging mistletoe, beating the Caga Tio *, roasting piglets, toasting with cava, giving gifts, or hailing in the Wise Men (Reyes).
Certainly the party never stops in Spain, and over Christmas the partying gets down right gluttonous.
Here’s the line up:
- Dec 24th: Dinner with family, presents, Santa drops in (a new tradition introduced about 20 years ago; he’s called Papa Noel here).
- Dec 25th: More eating, this time lunch, with a whole roasted piglet or maybe a turkey. Turrón is the Spanish dessert. Cava anyone? Don’t mind if I do!
- Dec 26th: (Only in Catalonia) Saint Steven’s Day, everyone has the day off. Families make cannelloni with left over turkey. More feasting. More cava. More fiesta. Most people loosen their belts by two notches and I change into sweatpants.
- Dec. 27th to the 30th: Some people go back to work. Once there they don’t actually work but play on the Internet and tell each other holiday anecdotes. Do not attempt to get anything done during this time – you will be thwarted. Some lucky devils go skiing.
- Dec. 31st: Barcelona’s restaurant owners jack up prices by 50% for New Year’s dinner parties and clubbing. Most people spend the evening with their families and eat 12 grapes at 12 midnight – then they hit the discos until 7 a.m.! In the morning, vomit and glitter cover the streets – a new year is born.
- January 1st: Family lunches. Feasting. Aspirin. Any cava left, or did we drink it all last night?
- January 2 to the 5th: The good people of Barcelona prepare for the arrival of Los Reyes, or the Three Wise Men.
- January 6th: Holiday! Day of Los Reyes when the Three Wise Men bring gifts to all the boys and girls of Spain. Folks eat the ‘Kings’ Cake’ and try not to break a tooth on the hidden bean*.
- January 12th: It’s a Monday, and yes, it is time to get back to work.
As you can see, we will be very busy here in Spain for the next couple weeks. So whether you are a Scroogie or a sentimental schmuck like me, Happy Holidays. May your feasts be festive, your carols off-key, your casa toasty and your cava glass never empty!