Spanish Christmas Traditions - Exploring Culture & History this Holiday

While catapulting from store to store in order to purchase that just so perfect gift for that special someone, take a moment to reflect on the spiritual meaning of Christmas. I did.

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While catapulting from store to store in order to purchase that just so perfect gift for that special someone, take a moment to reflect on the spiritual meaning of Christmas. I did. The reason for this was that I recently had the pleasure of being inducted into the ranks of single parenthood and I felt that this was a good time as any to analyze what Christmas actually meant to me, and how I wanted to celebrate it. Being a single parent has been both a blessing and a curse as I am sure those in a similar predicament can attest to.  There are times when I swear that my sole offspring is Damien re-incarnated. She is definitely a product of her generation and continually amazes me daily by how perceptive she is for her age. For example, she does not hesitate to inform me with hands on the hips and lips aquiver whenever her outfit doesn’t match to her satisfaction or if mom is downright annoying at the moment that she is busy doing whatever she deems is IMPORTANT. Obviously, it is NOT what I want her to be doing! As I think back on my childhood I don’t remember behaving in quite that way but then  again that was SO many years ago. I daresay that my mother would say that my daughter is a clone of me. God help me!  I am in for a rude awakening in a few years if this is the case. Sigh, I digress.

  I decided to mark this monumental change in my social status this year by modifying our existing Christmas tradition. The modification would entail the incorporation of a few elements of Hispanic traditions of my choosing. Sad to say, I had overlooked my Hispanic heritage while growing up and had no point of reference of how it is celebrated in Spanish countries worldwide. Thank goodness for the internet! A click of the mouse quickly brought up all the information that I could ever possibly need or want. The only thing that I absolutely knew was that Christmas was an important religious holiday observed by Spanish cultures.  During my investigation I learned quite a few tidbits about Spanish Christmas traditions.  For one thing, not all Spanish countries celebrate Christmas in exactly the same way. For example, the Mexicans light a farol, a candle lit lantern that represents the source of illumination that both Joseph and Mary followed during their trek to Bethlehem.  Bethlehem was the birthplace of Jesus, the focal point of the Christmas season. This event held a lot of religious significance which led the villagers to dramatically reenact it every year. This is known as Las Posadas or stops.  In other Spanish countries, it is January 6th when the children receive gifts - not on Christmas Day. It is el Dá¼µa de los Reyes. This day marks the arrival of the three kings who came to pay homage to the infant, Jesus. The children set out clean shoes filled with straw to feed the camels that rode in with the kings. In the morning they would find gifts of sweets and candy in lieu of straw.  A few traditions that are shared by all is the display of the Nacimiento or Nativity scene and church attendance at la Misa del Gallo – the mass of the rooster, the midnight mass held on Christmas Eve. The rooster is supposedly the first animal that heralded the birth of the savior.

As the magic of Christmas transforms my soul I begin to realize what a special time of the year it really is.  In spite of all my trials and tribulations, I have much to be grateful for, especially my forty pound ball and chain. She has taught me the most precious lesson of all- unconditional love - for now at least. I’m sure that is apt to change in a few years once she’s hit puberty. I hope that she will embrace her Spanish heritage with the same enthusiasm I do, these are very meaningful traditions that I hope she will pass down to her children. Well, I’m off to go purchase my nativity set and my farol!  I wish all the readers a very joyous holiday season!


This Article was Written by Jackie Kingston.

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