Monday, 24 December 2012

Spanish Christmas Eve: Nochebuena

Our Christmas tree this year
In Spain I grew up with a totally different type of Christmas Eve to what seems to happen in households in other countries, above all the UK, where I live.

Our Spanish Christmas eve was dinner at the house of one or other set of grandparents (alternating each year), uncles, aunties, cousins, everyone would be there. There was dinner: seafood, meat, almond soup, turrón, singing, dancing, partying, laughing, being a family.

As close to midnight as feasible we would be paying close attention to something, perhaps out in the balcony because a wise adult with brilliant eyesight had seen Santa's sleigh fly past (the balcony at either of the grandparental houses is my clearest memory of Santa spotting); in the meantime, Santa and the elves were busy setting up the gifts.

Growing up HE wasnt called Santa Claus though, nor Father Christmas, in Spain he was Papá Noel (still is despite any American movie influence).

Santa didn't get to our house until much later on so, we would go back home, knackeredly go to bed and the next morning we would press our noses against a glass door to see if he had been! But we were not allowed to open any presents until after breakfast: agony!

Everyone looked forward to my mother's food. She would cook all morning on Christmas Day: very drunk capon stuffed with chestnuts and prunes, red cabbage... Both sets of grandparents, great aunts, both single uncles, they would all come eat and be merry. My brother and I usually ended up in fancy dress, it was always fun.

I would usually be told to sit with my two uncles and their huge appetites and we would have eating competitions, the stick thin child beat them both every year. I could eat... a lot!

Then on January 5th/6th we would do it all over again with the Three Wise Men!

This year we are at home and doing it a bit differently: I've put together a Christmas Eve box to take us through the day.

Feliz Navidad everyone.
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