By Nancy Todd
Villages, towns and cities in Spain have staged Christmas markets for centuries. Sad, mournful religious figures are the majority of hot items for sale. It is the tradition that when the children leave the family and start their new family, they buy all new actors for their nativity scenes. We see more people browsing than buying.
Markets rise up at the beginning of December and run to December 31. Located on city plazas, they are free of charge. The main plaza of a city always has the big markets, and others are scattered about on the small plazas. Stocked with fresh greens, food, ornaments, twinkle lights and cheap plastic crap, I bought what I could not live without: two fashionable reindeer baseball caps at the Madrid Christmas Market. Here is The Scoop on four traditional markets in Spain.
l. Barcelona, Cathedral Plaza, Fira de Santa Llucia has been in the biz since at least 1786. Famous at this market is The Shitter: a country person with red cap, pants around his ankles, doing his business. Queen Elizabeth, soccer players, etc. are now characterized in the squat position. At edge of Market near Via Laietana are craftspeople with jewelry, soap, glass, etc.
2. Granada, Plaza Bib Rambla, is located near the Grand Cathedral. Lots of sweets for sale at this market with the Sierra Mountains as a backdrop. It doesn’t get more beautiful. Candles, flowers, handmade gifts.
3. Madrid, Plaza Mayor. Madrid’s largest plaza is 150 years old and bustles with musicians and balloon guys. Booths have a pseudo chalet look. Restaurants that surround the Plaza are poor so when you need that food break head to the side streets off the Plaza. Wigs and masks for sale for Fool’s Day, December 28. About 100 vendors.
4. Seville, Cathedral Plaza. Weird, butterscotch colored plastic housing is the architecture of choice for this Christmas Market. Droll religious figures prevail. Vendors roasting chestnuts and sweet potatoes set up on the Plaza. Nativity scenes decorate many store windows. You may be able to catch a good blues musician.