¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Happy New Year! Were you able to eat the 12 grapes (“uvas”) on time? It is challenging to do so before the clock finishes its 12 bell rings marking the start of 2018!
Hopefully your mind and body have also coped with the eating and drinking feast I mentioned in my previous post while still having some spare capacity left to survive to the end of the festivities, taking place during the Three Kings’ Day on January 6, also known in Christian terms as the Epiphany of the Lord.
Lunch, wine and spirits aside (yeah, more of them that day!), this is an important festivity in our calendar (and for a good part of Hispanic countries in America) starting in the morning of it, we (children and not so) receive gifts that the “Reyes Magos” (Magician Kings, i.e., the previously named Three Kings) left during the night before, subject to your good behaviour. Be warned that if you misbehave the previous 364 days of the year, you will receive coal. Luckily, these Kings at least will leave you edible coal. One more recommendation to ease the hard work of our beloved ‘majesties’ is to place a pair of shoes or slippers of yours in the living room, so they know where and for whom they must leave each present.
This celebration has its roots in a passage of the New Testament in which the Three Kings visited Jesus Christ at the stable of Bethlehem a few days after He had been born, on the night of January 5, following a star that pointed them in the right direction and ‘offering’ Him gold, incense, and myrrh. Their names are Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar and each of them provided, in that order, the previously mentioned presents. As I also commented in the Christmas in Spain entry, this celebration is represented by the “Belenes” that are displayed in churches and houses.
As it happens in most of the Western world, depression time comes once festivities are over for most people (others are relieved, though!): not much money left in the bank after a lot of lavishness, return to work or lonely days, some extra kilos/pounds, dark/cold days… And the fearful ‘Blue Monday’ (third one of January) in which all the previous is compounded together with the realisation that most (if not all) New Year’s resolutions will not be achieved this time either.
Some good news to overcome that BM-Day: “Carnaval” (Carnival) takes place relatively early this year, its main celebrations being in the weekend of February 9-12. It must be noted that the importance of this secular festivity varies enormously from place to place. In Canary Islands is THE party of the year and other cities in the Iberian Peninsula take it very seriously with customs and songs competitions, parades, and other events. In the case of children, there are a lot of celebrations everywhere: schools, parks, streets, etc. If the place where you leave or stay is not Carnival ‘friendly’, you can always look for parties in specific venues. Odds are they will not disappoint you…
Personally, I have been lucky to go several times to the city of Tenerife (Canary Islands) where on top of the ‘professionalism’ with which they carry out the activities of these dates, the weather is pleasant (20ºC/68ºF – 15ºC/59ºF on average (day-night)) for this time of the year when coming from the European continent. Thanks for being such a great host (and friend) so many times, Alfonso!!
To mix up things for this 2018, on February 14 we also have the commersialised Valentine’s Day, which can be delightful, dull, or horrific depending on your situation and beliefs. In case you are big on carnival and have that special relationship, make sure you do not spend all your Euros the previous weekend! Also, if you plan to dine out, be sure you make a reservation.
Easter this year will take place around the weekend of March 30 – April 1. But that is still far away and we will have time to talk about it when it approaches…
How was the end of 2017? And the beginning of 2018? What have you enjoyed the most of this festivity time? What is your main resolution?
Photos: Grapes and wine to celebrate the New Year. The Three Kings on their way to Bethlehem from Orient. Carnival Parade in Tenerife, Canary Islands.