Cultural Happenings

Christmas dinners, Galician dance festivals, children´s birthday parties, nearly stealing puppies from a random home, class evaluations for the term´s end, cooking attempts, ballet performances, nights out, The 3 Kings, glasses of wine, christmas carols, private lessons, marketplace chatter, snack projects at school, learning to flirt in Spanish, and moremy past couple weeks have been filled with these things. And it has been a wonderful few weeks! Time is starting to pass much more quickly, and I feel I am finally starting to get a life figured out here.

I´ve continued to have several downfalls, but now I just cannot wait for Christmas to finally arrive. It´s crazy that I´m still at school right now, there´s no snow outside, and there are not decorations all over the hallways, yet Christmas is in 6 days. It makes me miss the days of high school when they played classical Christmas music during the passing periods…made everything feel more festive! However, we do have some beautiful lights up around town, some of which are blue/red which makes me think of Independence Day, and I have a whole I-Tunes playlist dedicated to Christmas music that I play constantly while making Christmas cards and drinking tea. The temperatures have dropped nearly to freezing (yesterday I was informed that it 3 degrees Celsius…not sure what the conversion is, but 3 is almost to the freezing point of 0!), but it´s not raining as much, so I´m not complaining!

“Papá Noel no viene por la chimenea esta noche…. (Santa isn´t coming down the chimney tonight…)

One thing about the holidays here that I´ve learned is that it´s not all about Papá Noel (aka: Santa Claus)…in Spain, The Three Kings/Wiseman are of more importance here. The major day of festivities and gift giving begins the night of the 5th of January and continues into the 6th. They have parades in the pueblos (villages) and huge nativity scenes set up in every town. It´s literally in a large enclosed glass building near the town centre and only used once a year for the nativity scene at Christmas. I´ll try and take a picture today to put up on facebook. An old tradition is that the children move the three wisemen figurines a bit closer to the stable every day starting on the 25th until the night of the 5th when they arrived (is this where the 12 Days of Christmas reference comes from, does anyone know??). Apparently not all of the children do this anymore as the influence of Papá Noel is starting to take over, but it depends on the families. In pueblos such as mine, where they are smaller and isolated, there is more of a continuing tradition, whereas in the larger cities, the commercialization and Santa stuff reigns. It´s been neat to learn about the differences since I didn´t know too much about how they celebrate here…I assumed it was Santa everywhere! (how egocentric of me…I´m embarrassed) They are also forcing me to try all of the traditional Christmas sweets, too! How terrible. haha

“Mosaic” Pros and Cons

As I recount all of these aspects of their culture and got to see some neat traditional shows of Galician dance, music, and costumes this past weekend, it makes me a bit sad that our country doesn´t have these. Yes, it´s wonderful that we are a mosiac of cultures, but it also means that along the way, many wonderful traditions have been lost as we meld together. When people ask me, ¨What music/food/dance/clothing/etc is traditional for you?”, I never know what to say! Indiana is different from Florida which is different from Texas which is different from Washington which is different from Maine….and beyond that, every family is different! It´s hard for me to come up with specific traditions to share with the Spanish that truly encompasses everyone from the USA. And that makes me sad…however, I recognize that it´s supposed to be one of the benefits of coming to the states…you can become anyone you want to be and start new traditions and we have become our own blend of  cultural identities….but still. Does anyone understand what I mean by this? I don´t mean to bash our own country, but I feel this is a great loss.

Apologies for strange symbols in this post…I am using the computer at school with a spanish keyboard.  They don´t have apostrophes, so it appears like an accent, and I have to spend time hunting for certain symbols.  Also, I have some new pictures from the past weeks that I will be putting up on Facebook once I have a faster internet connection. 🙂 You can see the little girls I give private lessons to in their Galician dresses, the adorable puppies I nearly stole when I discovered them on a run, and several other events.

Hope everyone has a fabulous Christmas break!!!

¡Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo!

2 thoughts on “Cultural Happenings

  1. ellen earhart says:

    The Three Kings Day is also popular in other Spanish speakng areas. Do they have a party on the 6th and eat a special three kings bread (Rosca de Reyes) which has a small figurine in it? Supposedly the person who gets that piece has to throw a party later in the year. Can’t wait to see your pictures.


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