Navidad

10 Dec

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The build up to Christmas in Spain does not seem to involve the frenetic consumerism we have come to expect in the UK. Although it is still a time for presents and decorating the house, somehow it just doesn’t seem to go so completely overboard. The streets of the old town are decorated with tasteful lights that don’t go on until December and it is only now that we see the odd inflatable Santa on an apartment balcony.

Even the supermarkets are very different. While we are used to seeing piles of turkeys, shelves full of mince pies and Christmas Puddings, aisles of wrapping paper and crackers for the table, the only place these make an appearance here in Jávea is in the very British Iceland. The most obvious difference, however, is the hams. Cured pigs legs hang in profusion, dominating the delicatessen aisle, the not entirely pleasant smell overwhelming. There are a few decorations mainly in the form of small tin boxes, shaped as one or other of the Three Kings or maybe a snowman and filled with a handful of sweets. Instead of heaps of family sized tins of chocolates there are a few varieties of truffles or the popular turrón, a sort of nougat made with honey and almonds.

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My favourite part of the Spanish Christmas is the Nativity Scene. There is no tradition of a decorated tree in the home and instead these tableaux are the centre piece. It’s not just the figures of Mary and Joseph by the crib and maybe shepherds and kings. Whole villages are depicted with figures added each year. The church in the old town has a large one on display outside and the art gallery in the port area has a beautiful example in the window. The real beauty of these is in the detail and you have to look for it. The Kings arrival maybe behind an archway, a woman resting on a wall is behind a tree, a small child urinates in the corner while another plays with kittens in the square. This, of course, means you have to spend some time gazing at the pieces and each time you look something different is spotted. Delightful. 

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