I promise this is my last post exuding holiday cheer (maybe). As I sit on a plane bound for Colorado with eight and a half hours to go, it only seems appropriate to take a few minutes to reflect on some Spanish Christmas traditions that I’ve come to take part in the past few weeks.
Now that I’m a working girl, one could only hope to partake in a “holiday office party” that always seemed so wild and crazy as a young kid listening to parents gossip about. Thankfully, teachers like to have fun too (who knew?) and we have been nonstop celebrating. To begin, last Friday night we had a staff dinner in a town right outside of the city center. Long story short, the dinner began at 9 and did not end until 2:30. Welcome to Spain.
The past few days at school have consisted not of grading homework and repeating questions like “What is your name?” but rather, drilling the lyrics of “Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer” and “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” into my student’s little non-English understanding brains. All our work lead up to the Christmas concert yesterday morning at Estremera’s Cultural Center for all their parents to see and hear. Remember those teachers who would always have to stand at the corner of the stage waving their hands and dancing for the kids to follow? This girl. I figured you would be sad about missing out on the festivities so compiled the hour-long concert into this two minute video:
Jealous much? Probably not… But on another note, I must admit it’s a good thing I am starting to even enjoy being with these little rugrats. I sure hope it lasts the next six months.
Afterwards, us teachers gathered for another huge meal at school to commemorate our last time together until we come back January 9. It consisted of way too much food that left me unable to eat for the rest of the day, along with singing and happiness. While I can’t help but complain about my long commute and tiring days, I feel truly lucky to work with such a great group of people who make going to work not too daunting.
Away from school, me and friends had some gatherings of our own including a festive holiday shindig, Ugly Sweater Party, and boozy holiday brunch. I even managed to get all my Christmas shopping done along the way.
In Spain, kids do not ask for presents from Santa, but the Reyes Magos. These three kings bring the kiddos presents on January 6 but our American Papa Noel is starting to creep his way into households all over, forcing parents to buy their children presents not only on January 6, but December 25. Sneaky, sneaky children. One other Spanish Christmas phenomenon is the lottery. La Loteria de Navidad is gigantic and announced every December 23. I forked over 20 Euros for a ticket but alas, did not win.
Besides that, I can say that I have consumed more sweets over the past four weeks than I did on every Halloween combined. From turon to polvorones to churros con chocolate and bizcocho… I can say for once I am all sweeted out for the time being. (and I didn’t even get to try the traditional roscon de reyes). These treats have infiltrated my school and let me tell you, nothing offends a Spaniard more than refusing their offer for food. One day, I added to the mix by baking pumpkin muffins with cream cheese frosting that I made with overpriced ingredients bought from Taste of America. Seeing as it such an atypical pastry to the Spanish tongue, they were a huge hit. I’ll definitely be bringing cake mix and baking supplies back to Madrid with me because it’s nearly impossible to find and when you do, it’s marked up a ridiculous amount.
I cannot believe Christmas Eve is tomorrow and while I’m definitely ready, I don’t know if I’m excited to return to Madrid in January knowing that all the bright lights, markets and bustling crowds will be gone. Even so, I’ve already begun to draft a bucket list for everything I want to accomplish for my next six months in the city and if all pans out, it’s going to be a pretty great year.