AS a child, my family became friends with another family who was a blend of Spanish and American – an American man studying in Granada married a Spanish woman from a tiny village in nearby and brought her back to Iowa, USA, to raise a happy, bilingual family.
She fascinated me and I asked her many questions about her homeland. One of the stories I found most curious was that of the Christmas season.
Spanish children, I was informed, don’t put out stockings to be filled. Instead, they use their shoes – historically no better smelling, I’m sure.
Christmas trees were not particularly common and reindeer were an exotic animal that would have no place in Southern Europe.
Much to my youthful shock and chagrin, I was also told that Santa was not a popular character in Spain.
Children are gifted with small presents from the Three Wise Men who visited the Christ child more than a week after his birth. No presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? That seemed like an eternity to wait to receive their gifts!
Having spent time in Spain with Spaniards recently, I’ve found that Santa has worked his way onto people’s balconies and little Christmas trees are becoming more prevalent.
As an adult, I can now appreciate that the traditional customs have not been replaced – the town now sports a gargantuan crèche in the main plaza and myriad banners of baby Jesus.
I’ve even seen some toy king trios climbing balconies next to Santa…