Felices Fiestas

As soon as the first of December rolled around, Logroño began throwing up it’s Christmas decor. It’s kind of impressive how quickly and extensively this took place. I missed the big “lights turn on” event because we were in Belfast, but I’ve been enjoying the lights each night since our return. Christmas time in Spain is different than the U.S… I think that goes without saying. One difference that I had no clue about (and now I feel stupid for admitting that) is that the Spanish have a celebration larger than Christmas… the Epiphany. Rather than getting excited about Santa Claus, Spanish children believe that los Reyes Magos (the three wise men) are watching how they behave and bring them gifts just as they brought gifts to baby Jesus. This doesn’t take place on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) or Christmas Day itself. Rather, los Reyes Magos are celebrated on January 6th.

For my usual holiday festive-ness this is kind of a dream come true! Christmas season lasts until a week after New Year’s Eve?! It’s been different. I’ve heard from most of my coworkers, private lesson students, and friends that celebrating Santa Claus, or Papá Noel here in Spain is not exactly traditional, but the amount of people who do increases each year. However, it’s still not as big of a deal as the three kings. One of the most prevalent decorations I’ve noticed around besides Christmas lights are decorations on balconies of either Santa climbing up a ladder or the three kings climbing up a ladder. That’s because they come through the window the night before! I didn’t know this originally, and when I presented over the story of Santa and said he came down the chimney, a lot of my younger ones were so sad and yelled out “y la ventana!” or, “and the window!” There isn’t a chimney in all these apartment buildings… whoops! Here are some examples of the balcony decorations:

Close enough...

Close enough…

Los reyes climbin' up the window!

Los reyes climbin’ up the window

Plaza Mayor, Laguardia

Plaza Mayor, Laguardia

Laguardia city tree, decorated with packaged wine from the different bodegas

Laguardia city tree, decorated with packaged wine from the different bodegas

Logroño is now covered in lights! Although the city isn’t as cute as Laguardia, these decorations certainly help the aesthetic appeal and my holiday spirit. My favorites are the giant Christmas tree on Vara del Rey and the snowflakes on Plaza de Espolon. Other cute festivities include tiny stands selling roasted chestnuts, turrón y mazapan lining all of the grocery stores and pastelería windows, live music throughout the city, and el Belén. A lot of effort goes into this season, and it seems a lot more collective than Tulsa or Shreveport–past cities I’ve lived in. There was also a super small “Christmas Market” where we bought some incredible tomato/pesto cheese.

Jay, Matt, Kristin, and I slept in this morning and then took time to open a few presents from each other as we waited for breakfast! Together we made an french toast recipe with apples, vanilla, cinnamon, and cream cheese. Jay made a cinnamon syrup to go on top and it was delicious with our morning mimosas and peppermint coffee! Little things like recipes and coffee with Bailey’s has made this holiday abroad feel a little more comforting. After breakfast we took long naps and made delicious spiced wine to sip on during a movie. Also, can’t forget phonecalls and video chats with our families back home.

We just returned from an little stroll around the city to look at lights and get out of the house for a bit. Everyone and their dog was out walking, drinking, and window shopping! I guess I expected everywhere to be closed because of the daily siesta and closings on Sunday… but that is not the case. It’s cold with a bit of wind, and everyone is smiling and laughing. Now we prepare dinner and spend the rest of our night eating, relaxing, and drinking wine! It’s been a pretty good holiday this year.

Merry Christmas everyone, wherever you are! I hope you’re spending this time surrounded with love.

Model of Iglesia de San Bartolome in Logrono's Belen

Model of Iglesia de San Bartolome in Logrono’s Belen

Beautiful poinsettias Matt bought for us

Poinsettias Matt bought for us!