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A Christmas View from the Village

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Hello again from Casares Village. Our view right now is sunshine and blue sky, but there are storms forecast and as we all know, the village seems to experience a more honest interaction with Mother Nature than our friends on the coast, so our terrace furniture will be covered and the shutters will come down quite soon I’m sure.
The village is starting to prepare for Christmas. The frankly enormous Christmas Tree we all enjoyed last year has moved to the Plaza de Espana and it looks great. Following the Christmas theme, a Casareno friend and I were talking about all things Christmas over coffee recently and we started to talk about the differences and similarities between Christmas celebrations in Spain and the UK.
Although we celebrate Christmas Day on the same date, we agreed that the festive season starts much earlier in the UK than in most of Spain. Jose simply couldn’t understand lights, festive produce and gifts appearing in UK in October and November, whilst early December seems to be more common locally. Christmas trees I learned are popular in local homes, but the tree doesn’t make an appearance until mid December. We laughed about how there was an almost competitive edge to how early Christmas trees make an appearance in some UK homes.
The UK doesn’t have an equivalent public holiday to the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December but the Christmas lottery draws both in Spain and the UK are fairly big events – well in Spain, El Gordo is almost a tradition I was told and yes, I will be buying a ticket this year.
I wasn’t really aware of just how important Nochebuena is locally, I am now though. My family in the UK have a tradition of having a family meal on Christmas Eve, but I don’t think most British readers would say a family meal on 24th is a tradition, most Brits are focussed on Christmas lunch. Jose told me this lunch is one of the most important family gatherings of the year, with prawns, roast lamb and traditional sweets like turron typically being on the menu.
We then talked about how one of the biggest differences in how we celebrate Christmas is probably around gift giving, especially gifts to Children. Christmas Day in the village I learned doesn’t necessarily mean giving gifts to each other or to the young ones. Christmas Day in the village is a day of calm reflection, maybe a walk to clear your head and perhaps a meal during the afternoon. Jose was fascinated by the British tradition of the Queen’s Speech and how Christmas Lunch is timed around this annual event and asked if Her Majesty spoke at other times of the year too. I assured him She did.
New Year celebrations are important to us all and yes, I had my twelve grapes as the clock struck twelve last year. Brits don’t have an equivalent celebration to the Processions or Feast of the Epiphany but we recognised the similarities between giving and receiving gifts on 25th December and on 6th January.
Merry Christmas everyone and thank you Jose for the insight.

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