Reunión de gente para celebrar algún suceso, o simplemente para divertirse
(people meeting to celebrate some event, or simply for fun.)
I don’t think Americans really know what a fiesta is… and if they do, it doesn’t compare in the slightest to Spain. Just in defining the word alone, dictionary.com provided two definitions which I wouldn’t even call a definition. In the RAE (Spanish Dictionary) there are nine. I picked my favorite. Spain knows how to do a fiesta. It is mandatory to have 12 days of fiesta in one year and in many cases if the fiesta falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, the Monday or Friday will be taken as Holiday as well. Nobody works on these days, almost all the shops are closed, and the day is celebrated with family and friends. Just one of the many things I love about this country…
In the past couple of months, I’ve gotten to celebrate four holidays. The first being Thanksgiving. It’s definitely an American holiday and I can’t say it felt anything like the real deal here. I had to go to class, I had to work, and I didn’t see anybody dressed up in pilgrim or Indian costumes… but at the same time, it was probably one of my favorite Thanksgivings. The family I live with was probably more excited than I was! During work the littlest girl and I made a turkey out of cutouts of her hands and feet, and in the evening the family took me out to TGI Fridays for a “traditional American Thanksgiving meal.” The girls dressed up in cute little dresses and we headed out. It’s almost impossible to find Turkey in Spain except if it is in cold meat slices or a mix of chicken and turkey hot dogs. So I felt lucky to be eating at a restaurant that had a real turkey dinner along with cranberries, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and pumpkin pie. My family enjoyed the meal just as much as I did as they asked me questions about Thanksgiving traditions back home. I may not have been at home with blood family but I was here with my adopted family, loving every single minute.
Christmas hasn’t always been a big deal here in Spain. They celebrate more the Three Kings day on the 6th of January, but in recent years with the help of movies, they have accepted a few of the American traditions. We got a real tree and decorated it while listening to Christmas music and the entire city was decorated with lights and trees. On Christmas Eve a bunch of people came over to our house for the first of many feasts. We ate and ate and ate. Early the next morning, my oldest girl came in to get me telling me that Papa Noel had come! Santa Claus. J I went out to the living room and opened my gift which was a Real Madrid Jersey! I couldn’t have been more excited!! Amazing. Then I opened the stocking my mom had sent that had been sitting on my shelf for over a month. Here in Spain it isn’t too common to give gifts to friends or relatives, whatever does come, comes from Santa… or Papa Noel, so it was a little strange not to see presents under the tree. For lunch we went to the grandparents’ house for incredible paella! I ate much much more before coming home to my siesta.
The next week went by very fast as I tried to run off as much of the food as possible because I had to run a 10k on New Years Eve! The day finally came and as I lined up to run with my host daddy by my side, I realized I needed to pee. But there was absolutely no way I could use the bathroom… so I ended up running anyway. We started off at a pace much quicker than I had planned on and I was a little worried I’d die before I finished. But looking at all the thousands of people running with me kept me motivated. There were tons of people dressed in costumes and lots of people on the sides of the roads cheering us on, as well as bands and DJs blasting music. We got to the 8th km which began the climb… straight uphill for a whole kilometer. It felt like it would never end, but host daddy and I powered through and we crossed the finish line at 52 min 17 sec! As much as host daddy likes to make fun of me for practically everything, he told me that night that he was very proud of me.
After the race we got back to the house, showered, and got ready for the night. My host family had prepared an amazing meal with roast beef and again, I ate more than my weight. But I let it slide because I had just completed that run! Afterwards, my friend Kylie and I took off for Sol, the center of Madrid. The tradition is at midnight, everyone is to stuff 12 grapes in their mouth. You have to do it to have good luck for the year. Also, it’s necessary to wear something red. Originally it was red undergarments but now I think anything goes. Kylie had a red scarf, and me red gloves. It’s all about good luck. These Spanish put a lot of effort into being lucky. J We got to Sol and it was a mad house! We literally couldn’t move without pushing our way through. At one point somebody grabbed my arm so I turned around. He told me that some guy just tried to rob me! I looked down at my purse and it had been unzipped! I checked and I thankfully still had everything. I’m usually very careful but that was a wakeup call. I don’t wear that purse anymore. So after waiting for what seemed like forever, the clock struck 12 and everrrrrrrybody ate their grapes! Happy New Year!
The day after New Years basically means Christmas is over and everyone returns to their normal lives… well not Spain! Christmas lasts for an entire week more! El dia de los Reyes Magos, The Three Kings day. During the day, the Three Kings come into town in what’s called a Cabalgata. It’s like a parade. Everyone is throwing candy and all the kids run around to catch as many as they can in their hat. Then the Kings come and all the kids yell shouting their name and waving, telling them what gifts they want. After the procession passed by, we went to another part of the town to see it pass by again, and when that finished, we found another spot to watch it a third time. These kids will have candy for years! And mom, you thought I was bad! That night the girls put out water for the camels and cookies for the Kings as they went to bed. The next morning all I heard was screaming as they woke up excited for their presents. It felt like Christmas. J We went to the grandparents house again for another huge meal. The popular dessert for this fiesta is called Roscon de Reyes. It’s a circular cake in which there are two items hidden inside. If you find the “bean” in your slice, you have to buy the next roscon. If you get the toy (which I actually got at a café!) it means you have good luck. Again, more luck. I can definitely get used to the Spanish lifestyle.
The day after the sales began, kind of like Black Friday, but here it lasts forever. In fact I think the sales are still going. The big Christmas tree in Sol came down last weekend and things have gone back to normal. Well most things. I’ve officially experienced a Spanish Christmas, I feel much closer to my family, and I’ve got a lot of calories to burn off. What’s not to love?