The Start of Christmas 

14 Dec

They do Christmas differently in Spain. It’s one of the reasons we love being here at this time of year. In total contrast to the frantic consumerism of the UK that starts sometime in October, you would barely notice the holiday approaching.

The supermarkets are probably the first with the appearance of more luxury items and displays of túrron and other traditional popular sweets. But it’s not until December that Christmas trees and other decorations are put up in bars and restaurants or the wonderful nativity scenes appear in public places. Poinsettias are for sale everywhere and the numerous Oriental bazaars stock their shelves with cheap and cheerful decorations.

It’s the Fiesta of Santa Llúcia on December 13th, however, that is thought of as the onset of the festive season. Here in Jàvea the fiesta is a low key event but has a small dedicated following. Starting the previous evening with a parade around the old town distributing doughnuts and Mistela (a fortified wine made from grape juice, brandy, sugar, cloves, and ground coffee beans) the day itself kicks off with “wake up” fireworks. Pilgrims make their way up to a chapel dedicated to the saint on a nearby hill and, after a special mass, the images of Santa Llúcia and Santa Barbara are then carried in a short procession around the hill.

The name Llúcia is reminiscent of the latin word for ‘light’ – luck and the early Christian Church originally placed the saint’s day so it coincided with the Winter Solstice, the start of the lengthening of the days. It became symbolic for the struggle between light and dark, good and evil. This is why traditionally it is seen by Christians as the onset of the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the “bringer of light”.

For us heathens the party season also started yesterday with turkey and all the trimmings. It was the Wine Appreciation Group’s Christmas Lunch. I’m even in the mood to put a few decorations up. Well, a small tree. A very small tree. More of a table decoration, really.

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3 Responses to “The Start of Christmas ”

  1. malongoman December 17, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

    We’ve lost the Christmas-plot at home 😦

  2. malongoman December 17, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    Spent a couple of short Xmas breaks in Alicante city, Noche Buena the waiters can’t get rid of you fast enough out of the restaurant so they can get home to their families, flying plates and food over the table!

    • lamputts December 17, 2016 at 7:19 pm #

      Think Alicante is always a bit like that, to be honest!

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