Though we won't get to experience Christmas in Madrid or on Día de los Reyes Magos (Day of the Epiphany, or the day that the three kings apparently arrived in Bethlehem), the day that most Spanish people celebrate even more than Christmas, on January 6, we still got a taste (both literally and figuratively) for how Christmas is celebrated in the capital of Spain. Take a look, and I'll do my best to explain...
Christmas decorations went up in some stores in the first week of November, and Danny even got to sit in Santa's lap outside of a store on our way to work one day!
We went to our first Christmas market at a German church on the third weekend of November. To be honest, it was a lot smaller than we were expecting, and a lot more "craft fair" and a lot less "Christmas market" than we were anticipating. However, we have spent the past two days in Germany, going to real German Christmas markets, so that one was just a warm up for the real thing. We wouldn't have wanted it to steal any thunder from these, now would we?
Madrid doesn't seem to be too keen on Christmas trees, real or artificial. The only trees I've seen are in two of my students' homes, and they're much smaller than what most people put up in America. The trees in Sol and Plaza Mayor (seen below - The first three are Plaza Mayor and the last is Sol) are made entirely of metal. They're charming in their own sort of way, they're just rather different. Which may be a good word to use when describing how Christmas is celebrated in Spain as opposed to in America. Different.
The weekend before we left on our Christmas trip, we tried to see all the Christmas things one last time. On Friday we went to Dulce Navidad, a Christmas market we heard about whose name literally means Sweet Christmas. We were really excited and ended being maybe a little let down, but buoyed by the hope of many Christmas markets to come. It's really Madrid's best Christmas market, though - the one in Plaza Mayor is the only other one I know about and the majority of the goods are quite tacky and belong on the shelves of a dollar store in my opinion. So if it's a Christmas market you want while in Madrid at Christmas time, try Dulce Navidad - we found some sweets, breads, meats, nuts, and other food related offerings as well.
A donut for me and a cake for Danny, and on our way home, a pretty street that we love walking by on our way home from the Metro in the evening...
On Saturday we walked around looking at different light displays as we knew that when we returned to Madrid, they'd all be gone.
Christmas in Spain may not look the same as it does in America (more nativity scenes, fewer lights, more neon colors, and not many Christmas trees), but we enjoy the Christmas spirit Madrid does have, and we'll miss it come January. So, our stockings are hung by the staircase with care, because we're celebrating (with some small gifts) when we get back - it didn't make sense to pack gifts into our already stuffed suitcases and then bring them back with us as well, especially as we pack up and move every few days and try to meet weight limits and such.
We're leaving Berlin tomorrow and heading to Vienna, where we'll spend Christmas this year. There's no doubt we miss being near to the ones we love, especially right now, but we're thankful to be together and that we have people to care about and miss at these special times of year. And it's certainly not lost on us what a gift this time abroad is - it may be short or it may be long, so we're enjoying it while it lasts. Merry Christmas, friends and family! Much love to you!