Just like in the famous Christmas song, “Driving Home for Christmas”, the idea of spending Christmas at home can be very stressful. One thing is for sure: once you’ve survived the endless queues, the Christmas carols played in an endless loop, the awful Christmas lights in the streets and the annual discussions while putting up the Christmas tree, Christmas can also have its bright and enjoyable sides if we are capable of ignoring the season’s melodramatic character.
In Spain around mid-December, you warm up with a series of Christmas dinners with your company, with colleagues and friends and eating trays of Christmas cookies, chocolate, and other sweets. Then comes Christmas Eve dinner, the event that officially opens the holiday season, as opposed to being an ending like in other countries. The obstacles: various starters, soups, different kinds of meat, fish and deserts, all served in just one night, à la Mum (or Grandma) and accompanied by a tasteful wine served to excess. These delicious home-made dishes are stable traditions. Changing them would be like sin. In the La Mancha region, where I come from, traditions are traditions!
From then on, you simply eat without stopping until the 6th of January. After Christmas comes New Year’s Eve (a day on which you carry on eating and “choking” your way through to the next year with grapes and loads of chocolate; not to forget the famous “churros” with chocolate when returning from a night out in the big cities and towns in Spain). To round it all off, on the 5th of January, the ultimate heavyweight comes into play: the “roscón de reyes” is a sweet festive bread shaped like a ring and served either with or without cream, with chocolate or pudding, according to your taste.
It’s nice to know that all the food excess and overall stress of the past days will vanish when you are
overwhelmed by all the presents from the Three Kings on the morning of January 6th As opposed to most other Western countries, Santa does not exist here at all. There is absolutely no reference of Santa Claus in Spain. Instead The Three Kings do his job for him: Spain is different!