Christmas in Spain is a time of different traditions from England or America, and one of the traditions most loved by Spaniards at Christmas time is the joy of eating Turron after dinner.
Turron, which is pronounced Too-Rron, is bought and sliced into cubes and served on plates along with coffee or brandy, and typically given as a gift when visiting friends and family. In Ronda most supermarkets sell dozens of varieties of Turron, though the best quality Turron can be bought from the Campinas store in Plaza Socorro. Continue reading Spanish Turron at Christmas→
In the English speaking world we know the 6th of January as the day of Epiphany, the day when the three wise men arrived from the orient bearing gifts for the baby Jesus. In the Christian calendar an important day, but usually not celebrated, and certainly not a public holiday.
In Spain this isn’t the case. The 5th and 6th of January together were traditionally bigger causes for celebration than Christmas Day. Some traditional families still consider the 6th to be the real Christmas celebration. Here it isn’t called the day of Epiphany, in Spain, the 6th of January is el Día de los Reyes, the three kings day.
Thousands of Rondeños braved the cold weather and occasional drizzle to watch los Reyes as they and their friends paraded through the streets of Ronda, beginning in the square near the Almocabar gates in the Barrio de San Francisco, then winding their way through Calle Armiñan, before turning onto La Bola, Calle Capitan Ramón y Cajal, and then Calle Pozo before finishing at the la Merced church.
Children all over Spain write letters to their favourite of the three wise men, Melchor, Gaspar, or Baltasar telling them what they want for to receive. The parade on night of the 5th is a time when los Reyes arrive in town to distribute the presents the children have asked for, so of course the parade is very well attended.
This year los Reyes threw tens of thousands of sweets, hard fruit flavoured sweets, and softer caramel toffees. The crowds got in to the swing of things shouting ‘Caramelo, Caramelo’ at every float that passed.
Cardboard cutouts of a king were thrown from the first float, whilst the second threw confetti. By the time the sweets were thrown everyone was holding aloft their cardboard king, though you’d be forgiven for not recognising a soul with the amount of confetti covering them.
After the sweets came the plastic eye patches, more sweets, and then more sweets, and still the crowd were chanting ‘Caramelo, Caramelo’.
Each year a different barrio hosts the parade, so of course the route changes from year to year as well. The brotherhoods of the Barrio de San Francisco put on a great parade this year, with many of our young Rondeños favourite characters in attendance.
The morning of the 6th Ronda’s children will be eagerly rushing to the door where they left their shoes the night before, one pair for each child in the house. Good children get presents, naughty children get a lump of coal, though we suspect nobody will receive a lump of coal this year.
Our photos were taken with a phone camera so aren’t fantastic, but on the other hand we were there to enjoy the parade with friends and family. Why not plan a trip to Ronda next Christmas and join us for the parade.
Ronda’s Escuela Oficial de Idiomas (EOI) recently held their annual end of year Christmas party. EOI are the largest language institute in Ronda and are a government owned academy teaching English, German, and French.
The staff and students of EOI decided to have a dress up party this year, though there was no theme, only that everyone made an effort to dress up as a character they identified with.
As you can see from our photos participants put in a lot of effort to have fun, the entire evening was definitely a highlight for many with prizes awarded for best dressed student, though sadly A+ pass grades weren’t offered as prizes.
The German class grouped together to sing German Christmas carols in a resounding and solidly teutonic style, with “Kling, Glöckchen, klinelingeling” becoming everyone’s favourite.
Having recently visited Bavaria the German students hosted the evening and provided several German cakes, hot mulled wine, and German biscuits to the other classes.
EOI’s French students weren’t to be outdone arriving as characters from famous French television programs, though two Napolean Bonaparte’s also made their appearance leading to an outcry that the 1812 Spanish War of Independence was about to start all over again.
Characters spotted on the night included Rita Hayworth, Gulliver from Gulliver’s Travels, Martin Luther-King, Napolean, MacBeth, Santa Claus, one of Santa’s Elves, Anne Frank, Sarah Ferguson, Groucho Marx, Marline Dietrich, and too many more to keep note of.
A grand evening was had by all, and from the Escuela Oficial de Idiomas a very Merry Christmas to all, especially to the students who couldn’t attend the party, you were sorely missed.
The 4th of December was the day the Christmas lights went on in Ronda, heralding the start of the Christmas holiday season, which in Spain extends through to the 6th January.
Christmas in Spain is unlike English speaking countries. Here the 25th of December is a religious holiday, whilst the 5th of January, known as the three kings day, is the important day for giving gifts. Of course Hollywood’s influence means this is becoming muddled and children in Spain often get presents on the 25th and 5th.
Switching on the Christmas lights is an important occasion, made even more special as this is a long weekend celebrating two holidays, Constitution Day on the 6th, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th.
The streets of Ronda were filled with people coming out to see this years lights, and to mix and mingle with friends in coffee shops, start the Christmas present buying spree, and enjoy the fresh evening air before the cold of winter really hits us.
The excitement was contagious, children were running and playing, calling to each other, staring with wild eyes in the windows of the shops with nativity scenes or Santa decorations, and Rondeños of all ages couldn’t contain themselves.
Several of the churches held special evening Mass services, so many in Ronda were wearing their Sunday best, though many more weren’t, being content to simply walk and enjoy the evening with friends.
The Christmas lights run the length of Carrera Espinel, Calle Sevilla, Virgen de la Paz, Calle Armiñan, Avenida de Málaga, Avenida de Martinez Astein, and are also in Plaza Socorro. The open air nativity is in the bandstand in Plaza Socorro.
While walking down La Bola taking the photos you see below, our friendly local busker was dressed as Santa playing Christmas songs on his accordion while singing “Merry Christmas” over and over again. We wondered if he knew the words and was just singing what he did know. Sadly the battery on the camera went flat and I wasn’t able to capture his Christmas spirit.
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