Sunday, 30 December 2012


We decided this year to have a combination of both English and Spanish traditions. It’s strange being somewhere else but great to find out about other peoples traditions – the differences and the similarities. It’s surprising in a warm country how much snow flakes and icicles form part of the decorations.


We had intended moving on before Christmas but as time got on, weather was against us and various other bits the children asked if we could stay put until after Christmas so the decision was made, decorations were put up and we settled back to enjoy some ‘tourist time’.


In Spain, Christmas Eve is the big family night, everyone gets together and eats a big meal starting around 10pm (normal evening meal time in Spain). The normal weekday meal takes at least 2 hours so I guess this could go on quite late by other countries standards! On Christmas day other family is visited, adults may exchange presents and people attend church. For us it was strange not to attend the crib service or midnight mass this year. We read the Christmas story together and talked about our nativity procession that had been created through advent and certainly thought fondly of St Mary’s our mother church.


The 12 days of Christmas are important in Spain, the Christmas period is considered to end on the 6th January – the feast of the three kings. On the 5th January most cities and towns hold a parade through the streets of the Kings giving out sweets to the children, that evening children will lay out their best shoes stuffed with treats of straw and carrots for the donkeys or camels and wait for the three Kings to deliver their presents. In the morning a special king cake decorated with jewel like crystallised fruits is eaten with hidden surprises inside of a tiny King.


Christmas is often a strange time, a time when you are either rushing round or wondering why you are not, trying to cram all sorts of thing in and hoping no-one gets ill. It is also a time when you think of all the people who you cannot be with as well as enjoying the company of those you can, I know a lot of people who this year are celebrating with an empty chair at the table or even in a different house following an unexpected move, for some this has marked several Christmases’ for others it was a new and probably painful experience.


In many ways we are used to being ‘away’ for Christmas, the first year Mark and I were together we were at Haslar hospital, he finished a night shift, we had lunch together, he proposed to me then I went off to work to do a late shift! Since then one or other of us have worked several Christmases’ and had to be quite flexible to fit around shifts. We have always phoned our families on Christmas day and this year had been looking forward to skypeing however the internet had other ideas so it was back to the traditional phone call but at least we were able to speak to them all.


We have been humbled by the kindness and generosity we have come across over the last year and a half from people we have met and from those at home. We have received so much support from our families and as we eat our Christmas cake and enjoy our mince pies, we raise a toast to ‘family and friends’ and look forward to spending future years celebrating together.

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