Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Drawing to a close

As I remember it, In England, Christmas gets off the ground just after the schools start back in September. Nothing frantic but there are unmistakable signs. Displays of trees in John Lewis, re-organisation of the display stands in Clinton's cards. It builds to a crescendo as the 25th approaches. Then a couple of family meals, too much drink, some tedious board games, the DFS 9am Boxing Day Sale and, although you may still be off work, Christmas is over.

In Spain it's different. My sister tells me that in Tenerife there was Christmas all over the place in November but, generally, in most places in Spain, you could miss any signs until December is well under way. Here in Pinoso, for instance, the Christmas lights weren't turned on till the 10th of December. Schools break up a couple of days before Christmas Eve. Families get together on the 24th and 25th echoing that yo-yoing between his and her families of Christmas day and Boxing day in the UK on alternate years. I know, by the way, that times have changed and that not all families are his and hers and that not everyone, even in Western Europe, celebrates Christmas but you'll just have to play along with me here. It is my blog after all.

But Christmas isn't over here. New Year's is also very much part of Christmas and people will be wishing you Felices Fiestas or Feliz Navidad until it becomes Feliz Año (Happy New Year). Then it, sort of, goes back to being Christmas. In fact it builds to a crescendo because, if Christmas really is about the children, then today and tomorrow are the big days.

The pages (servant pages, not pieces of paper pages) have been out all over the country collecting the letters from good boys and girls for the The Three Kings or, as we tend to say, the Three Wise Men. The Kings are the gift givers, working overnight on the 5th January, in much the same way as Father Christmas brought me that orange bulldozer. The Kings as present deliverers has a certain biblical logic given that they turned up in Bethlehem with gold, frankincense and myrrh. In about an hour, they will be parading through city streets all over Spain.

I'm racing with the post a bit. We're staying local this time and going to the cabalgata, the cavalcade, on home turf, in Pinoso. We'd wondered about going to Alcoi (the oldest parade in Spain where the Kings ride in the "wrong" order and where the King's helpers carry ladders to scale balconies to leave presents) or to Elche or Murcia, where the parades are a bit grander, but no. Local it is.

On the telly none of the reporters give the game away. The myth is maintained by hard bitten journalists who explain that the reason there are so many Kings in so many places is because of their magic powers. Children with squeaky voices are interviewed about their gift choices - I want a Nancy, I want a hatchimal - or reading out their wishes that none of the children of the world go hungry. Later tonight on the TV news there will be reports of Kings in helicopters, in boats, on elephants. The shops are still open for those last minute gifts and they will be in Madrid, Barcelona and the like till 10 this evening.

You think it's all over. Well not quite yet.

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