Does anyone remember when Christmas was something that only happened in December? In my family home, Christmas used to start with the first toy ads on television. Ah, the good old days… We are all grown-ups now and society has changed so much that department stores have taken over and assumed the role of heralding Christmas. Every year they remind us that the most special season of the year (also the one with the highest levels of consumerism) approaches… In early November!
In some countries such as Germany, there are traditions that somehow explain why there is such a hurry. Christmas markets, Advent and Saint Nicholas’ Day give some meaning to the early spending sprees. In Spain, on the other hand, our own traditions let us hold off a little longer on the Christmas cheer. Whereas most people’s Christmas spirit has dwindled by the 26th of December, Spaniards have very good reasons not to do so until the 7th of January.
Just like the rest of the world, we celebrate Christmas Eve with a family feast. However, this is followed by a family lunch on Christmas Day and another family feast on New Year’s Eve. We always welcome the New Year in the company of our loved ones by eating the 12 good-luck grapes, one for each time the bell in the clock tower at Madrid´s Puerta del Sol square rings. And to top it all off, we celebrate April Fool’s Day on the 28th of December!
With the New Year comes the excitement of awaiting the arrival of the Three Wise Men and their load of presents. On the 5th of January, ‘Their Majesties’ the Kings Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar are welcomed by thousands of children and their parents. After a whole year of longing for that moment, the traditional parade or cabalgata along the main streets in every single town and city is followed by a sleepless night and the best morning of the year. On the 6th of January, everyone gets up early to open their presents, eats roscón de Reyes and finally starts saying goodbye to Christmas until next year. But, remember, only until November!
HAPPY THREE WISE MEN´S DAY!!!