Christmas is an entirely different kettle of fish in Spain. Most noticeably through lack of ridiculously early shop window displays, painfully irritating Christmas songs and just general blatant commercialism. Nor does anybody tend to tart up their houses with twinkling fairy lights or giant Rudolphs, as is often the case in Britain and the US. In fact, the Spanish treat Christmas very much more as a religious affair. People will often decorate their homes with scaled down versions of nativity displays, or ‘Belénes’, as they are called in Spain, and gather round them on Christmas Eve, before siting down for a traditional fish/lamb supper. Christmas Day itself is generally seen by most as an opportunity to recover from the night before, and is a big day for churchgoers of course.
The most notable difference is that there are no presents given out on Christmas Day. This is left for ‘Reyes Magos’, the epiphany on the 6th of January. It makes a lot more biblical sense really, given the fact that this is when the three wise men allegedly brought gifts to a bawling baby Jesus. After presents, people flock to the town’s streets to watch the cavalcades of the Three Kings trundle through, showering children with sweets as they go.
This year I flew back to Spain earlier than I normally would after the Christmas period in order to catch a glimpse of this epic street party in action. Plus, I had a new camera, and I have suddenly become mildly obsessed with taking photographs. So it was a shame that when I actually did head out to join in the fun I had already, and unknowingly missed the first two Kings of the procession. I did manage to catch the third though. Sort of. And I was lucky enough to see some children dressed as chickens, standing on a truck, also dressed as a chicken, led by a bloke dressed as a cock…erel. There was a chicken-themed song that everybody knew the words to, and it wasn’t the chicken dance. Needless to say, I was baffled. Why is this relevant? Would anybody care to enlighten me?
Here’s what I got anyway: