Almudena and Maria presented their new online series to spread some knowledge on the most important elements of a Spanish Christmas! The online event took the online place between 14-18 December, 2020, on the Erhangja International facebook page, with short videos and descriptions! If you read further, you’ll find who are Tió or the Reyes Magos!
*** CRAVINGS ****
Our bellies aren’t full from the last event yet… so we have decided to begin this series by showing you a couple of typical dishes from the Christmas season: TURRÓN AND POLVORONES!As if it wasn’t clear by now, we love to eat. It is a very important happening in our daily lives, but at Christmas it is brought to the next level. Gathering around the table with family and sharing a meal for hours is really significant.Without further ado, we present TURRÓN, a delicious nougat confection made of sugar, honey, and egg whites with almond or other nuts, shaped into a rectangular tablet. Our personal favourites are the turrón de Jijona (a soft turrón made out of 64% of almonds) and turrón Suchard, a chocolate turrón which you won’t be able to refuse! The other finger-licking typical dessert we want to introduce are POLVORONES, which consist of a heavy, soft and very crumbly type of shortbread made of flour, sugar, milk and nuts (almonds are the most common). These pieces of heaven crumble in your mouth as you eat them which makes it a quite fun and challenging task. JUST DELICIOUS!Wouldn’t you like to try some?
*** VILLANCICOS ****
Spanish people love to party. And the best way to accompany the Christmas holidays is by singing villancicos. They are traditional songs (Christians or profanes) interpreted during these festivities, from just before Christmas until Epiphany. Villancicos are also full of references to Spanish culture. It is said that singing villancicos at another time of the year brings bad luck, so we have to take the opportunity to sing them now. Villancicos are usually sung accompanied by tambourines, Spanish guitars, zambombas and other instruments. The whole family enjoys this tradition!!!
*** TIÓ DE NADAL****
Look out for a seasonal tradition. This is hard to understand, even for people who have lived in Catalonia for a long time… The Tió or Tió de Nadal is an ancient tradition. It consists in getting a log from the woods a couple of weeks before Christmas day, usually December the 8th the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, put it in a corner of the house with a blanket (so it can keep warm, of course) and regularly feed it until Christmas Day when we make it defecate. In order to make Tió defecate, people gather around it with sticks, and while singing a song one has to hit the Tió repeatedly to encourage it to shit sweets and other presents. On a more serious note, the tradition is linked to nature, fertility and the winter solstice. It has rural origins and it stands for abundance and the augury of the rebirth of nature after the winter season.
*** LOS REYES MAGOS ****
Here’s a really magical tradition: Los Reyes Magos (the Magic Kings or Three Wise Men in English). The festivity has a Christian background and it is celebrated on the day of the Epiphany, January 6th. The Reyes receive letters from children and these bring them presents on the night before the Epiphany. In most homes, children (or adults) prepare a drink and a little something to eat for each Rey, sometimes food and drink isalso left for the camels that carry the Reyes around. Almost every Spanish city holds “cabalgatas” on January the 5th, in which the Reyes and their helpers parade and throw sweets to the children who attend the parades.For sure one of the highlights of the year! Wouldn’t you like to experience it at least once?
*** NOCHEVIEJA ****
A truly cherished Spanish tradition that is celebrated in every household of the country is the eating of the UVAS (grapes) during Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve). It consists in eating twelve grapes at the pace of the twelve clock bell strikes marking midnight and the beginning of a new year. The most famous place to do so is the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, right in front of the clock tower. National televisions gather and put their tv sets to broadcast the moment countrywide. Fun fact: it is said that the tradition was built around the fact that at the beginning of the 20th century, there was a grape surplus and farmers popularized the custom to commercialize the production surplus. Really good marketing strategy, huh?Do you think you would be able to do it keeping the pace without making a mess?It is definitely the perfect way to enter the new year, around family and friends, with the sweet taste of juicy grapes.Here’s a little incentive: if you manage to eat the twelve grapes in time you will have good luck and prosperity!