Nochebuena in Spain
Updated: Apr 24
Merry Christmas everyone!
This Christmas has been definitely different than any other I had so far. I was always home for the winter holidays and now I was “stuck abroad” due to the 5 star prices of the low cost company operating from the area, at 2000 km away from what Christmas meant to me. It has been quite a challenging time I must say as I spent most of it alone.
On 24th though, the Nochebuena or the Christmas Eve, I spent it with other volunteers that stayed in Murcia. All of us brought some food so we can eat together, there was dancing and singing involved and, around midnight to stop disturbing the neighbours, we went out. For me spending my Christmas night in a pub afterwards was not an experience I’d like to repeat.
In terms of Spanish way of celebrating the Christmas, I would like to present to you my first “shock”: there is no tree in the traditional way of celebrating, but a scene, el belen, with figurines depicting the birth. I found out that this is rather common for Catholics and in Spain is quite a competition too. Every year, municipalities all around Spain are trying to offer the biggest, better scene. It often has natural size statues and requires quite a lot of patience for details. I haven’t visited the Murcia one so far as every time the amount of people was huge.
The city centre I have to say that it quite disappointed me with the decorations as they seemed too overrated with the giant iron conic shaped trees. The other lights though were charming. Every night there were different mini-concerts, competitions and activities for children in the evening in Plaza Circular. I am not a typical fan of the crowd so I visited just once a concert as I could hear quite well the concerts from my window. Other concerts and light shows were in Plaza del Cardenal Belluga, next to the Cathedral, as well as in Plaza de la Glorieta de Espana, just in front of the city hall. The typical Christmas market takes place on Granvia as the space allows organising 2 rows of little houses.
image source: laguiago.com
Turron, is a nougat type of a typical sweet for Christmas. It is made of honey and toasted almonds. Depending on the area of Spain, you can find it in different colours, with full or smashed almonds or different textures. It is believed to have 2 variations from where it all started: the one from Alicante, which it is hard and has the texture of a chocolate bar, and the soft one, or the one from Jijon. Regardless the option you chose, you’ll like it.
I found out that Christmas is not that popular to spend here in Spain and except the lunch or dinner on the eve which often is spend more like a family dinner with no particular celebration tights, there aren’t so many traditions as a whole, but more that each family has. In exchange, there is rather typical to spend the days before Christmas in different workshops with season thematic (cards, presents, paintings, drawings, decorating cookies) or joining carol concerts.
This Christmas has been rather sad for me as I missed many of the things I was doing at home, the only cheering spirit being the little light tree I set up on the wall. It didn’t last even 1 night so I decided to move them along my window to look at them at night pretending they were stars up in the sky.