Fiestas

Fiestas

Spain is known for its great quality of life and strong traditions which translates into spectacular Spanish fiestas, a festival or holiday. Celebrations fill the country with a zest for life that can be experienced in every region of Spain. The amazing abundance of these fiestas means that there is a Spanish festival or Spanish fiesta being celebrated somewhere in Spain every month of every year. Steeped in history these diverse celebrations are a spectacle to enjoy, immerse yourself into the Spanish lifestyle; you will be made most welcome. Discover some national and local fiestas.
Carnival.
Prepare yourself for an eclectic mix of traditional ceremony and fun. Carnival occurs immediately before Lent a tradition that dates back from the middle Ages. The town streets and plazas come alive as the neighbours friends and family join together to celebrate. Everyone wears fancy dress or masks ,an expression of freedom; you can be whoever you want to be during carnival time. There is music, street parties, parades and fireworks. The Spanish love to be together with food and drink to share, noise to make and masquerading to do. One of the striking features is the “Burial of the Sardine” during Ash Wednesday This marks the beginning of Lent when formally dressed “mourners” carry a cardboard sardine through the streets and then bury it a pagan ritual that is to cleanse the body and soul. Dress up, buy or make a mask and join in.
Semana Santa. Easter Week.
For some this is a deeply religious celebration for the Spanish for others it is a fiesta and holiday time for enjoyment spent with family and friends. It begins with Palm Sunday celebrating Jesus’ triumphant arrival in Jerusalem. This is a joyous time brotherhoods in their different brightly coloured robes and pointed hats parade through the streets. Palms are carried and used for decoration both in the churches and the home. You can buy items made from palm leaves in the local markets and from stalls set up in the streets, large palms to decorate the front of your house or balcony, figurines to carry in the procession or small button holes to wear. Easter Weekend. Prepare to be moved with emotion, entranced by the beauty of the floats, some that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, that are transported through the streets on the shoulders of the various brotherhoods. The whole scene before you is alive with sound and colour, the brotherhood s pass by swaying slowly to the sounds of the beating drums, their banners held high and proud .They are followed by women in traditional elegant Spanish costumes a mixture of pride, sadness and joy shines from their eyes. Candles are carried and incense is burned, a silence fills the air as this incredible event unfolds before you. The culmination is as the floats return to the churches becomes up beat bands begin playing the crowds begin clapping and the celebration of the resurrection has begun.
Christmas
Christmas in Spain i.s one of our favourite times, especially in Andalucía where the days are still warm. Unlike the UK Christmas lights and decorations do not usually go up in Spain until late November creating a feeling of anticipation and excitement. Towns, villages and cities will be bedecked with lights, Christmas markets fill the streets and the smell of roasted chestnuts fills the air.
The 22nd of December is the day of Spain’s state run lottery, El Gordo which literally translated means the Fat One! It is one of the largest lotteries in the world and gives thousands of people the opportunity to win just before Christmas. The Spanish are very superstitious and will travel hundreds of kilometres to buy their ticket from the Lotteria , the lottery shop that sold a winning ticket the year before.
Christmas in Spain still is a religious celebration; however as with all Spanish fiestas family and friends are the most important, with extended family travelling home from all corners of the globe.
The Belen/ nativity scene is the most important decoration in the Spanish home, the church and most town halls will display a Belen. These wonderful scenes are created with loving care and the figures are often collected and handed down the generations. Christmas markets selling the figurines are a highlight in the Spanish calendar. Choose your stable this can be a small simple affair or you can buy enough of these tiny buildings to recreate a miniature town or village. The Tree kings line up in front of you available with or without their camels, shepherds, oxen and sheep accompany them. There are water wheels, vegetable and bread stalls, tiny clay ovens the deep glow of the fire provided by a twinkling red or orange light. Traditional carts pulled by the cutest of donkeys, ladders, water pails, agricultural tools and two small boys carrying crates of oranges. This is Spain at Christmas and we just love to visit the markets and buy a few new pieces to add to our collection every year.
24th December Christmas Eve Nochebuena
Christmas Eve is one of the most important meals of the year. This is a time for the family and many bars and restaurants away from the tourist areas will be closed, so very different from Christmas Eve in the UK. The markets will be brimming with fresh produce and bustling from early morning as the Spanish prepare for this special family occasion. Kilo upon kilo of gambas/prawns fresh plump and juicy, smoked salmon, salted cod, poultry, game, lamb and of course the obligatory leg of Jamon. Served in in thin slices, no home will be without jamon over the festive season. Cava the Spanish equivalent to Champagne, and made to the same exacting standards, fino /sherry but not as we know it; and of course a selection of Spanish wines to complement the meal. This meal will include many courses and will be eaten slowly over several hours. Spanish dulces/ sweets and pastries fill the shelves of the shops at Christmas time; Turron made with a base of almonds and honey and available in an assortment of flavours are the most traditional along with marzipan and a variety of other sweets and biscuits. These often made and sold by the convents across the Region, some of these Nuns are in closed orders and if you go to the convent to buy their fabulous products, you are served through a hole in the convent wall! After this elaborate feast most families will attend midnight mass.
25th December Christmas day. Día de Navidad.
This is one of the quietest days in Spain, probably due to the fact that after mass the Christmas Eve celebration will have continued until sunrise. Steaming mugs of hot chocolate and churos/ fried choux pastries will have been eaten before there is a little time to catch up with some sleep. The children may receive a small gift, however Christmas day is a low key celebration with the Three Kings the day Epiphany or the twelfth night being the big celebration in Spain. The shops will be closed as will many bars and restaurants away from the cities. If you wish to eat out on Christmas day booking is essential.
31st December New Year’s Eve Noche Vieja.
This is another night of great celebration, many families will see in the New Year at home. There are also elegant parties, dust off your black tie and ball gown and prepare to dance until dawn. The Puerto del Sol in Madrid attracts thousands of revellers every year. Wherever you choose to be there is the Spanish tradition of eating twelve grapes one on every chime of the bells at midnight, for every grape you eat you will have a month of good luck. These are always washed down by a cold glass or two of Spanish Cava and firework displays light up the night sky.
5th January
There are processions all over Spain this evening to celebrate the Three Kings Balthasar, Gaspar and Melchor who arrived twelve days after the birth of Jesus, bearing their famous gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. There is an air of anticipation and every town has its own variation such as in the Sierra Nevada,where the Three Kings can be seen to ski down to the village; and on the coast they often arrive by boat. They join the cavalcade of brightly decorated floats, juggler’s, circus acts and musical bands, As hundreds of sweets are thrown from the floats, the crowd surge forward to collect them, the most organised have brought carrier bags! After the parade the children excitedly return to their homes to prepare for the arrival of the Three Kings. They place their shoes on the windowsills and fill them with straw and carrots for the camels of the Three Kings. Although the children like all of the Three Kings, their favourite is Baltasar, because he is the one who it is believed actually leaves the gifts.
6th January
After two weeks of festivities this is the last day of Christmas in Spain when the Spanish give and receive their gifts. As on Christmas day in the UK the children will be up early to open their presents. Families will gather at breakfast to eat Three Kings’ Cake, the crown/Roscón de Reyes, which is made of sweet bread dough, topped with candied fruits and sugar. Inside t.here will be lucky charms similar to the lucky coin in a Christmas pudding. Lunch will be another elaborate meal and as the afternoon draws to a close, the roads and airports will be full as everyone returns home. So that’s it, another fabulous Christmas for another year and tomorrow the 7th January the sales/rebajas begin


Historic Galera, Spain.