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Whether you've reached this blog willingly or by force I'm happy to have you here.
ersi marina's workroom is always open to the public, even when I am not in. Sometimes I need to sleep.
And to paint.
And to play with my four cats.
My name is Ersi Marina and I live in Spain though I was born and grew up in Athens, Greece. I kept it all very Mediterranean.
This blog is a means to share my work and snippets of my life, as well as to be in contact with you all. I hope you'll enjoy your visit.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

did you know... [Spain 1]

I thought I'd write a series of posts about facts and customs in Spain that may not be well known in other countries. I'll try to post a different fact or peculiarity once a month though not necessarily on the same date. Knowing how busy my schedule will be till June, it's the best I can do to keep the series alive.

Today is 6 January, the day of Epiphany in the Christian calendar. But in Spain (as in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Mexico) it is traditionally the day when children receive their Christmas gifts. The Three Wise Men (or Reyes Magos in Spanish) bring the gifts on the night of 5 January, just as they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus from the East.

image from Wikipedia

On the 5th children line up in shopping centres and other public spaces to meet the Three Wise Men and tell them what presents they want. They give them a letter with their list, so the super-busy Kings will not forget. In the evening of the same day the Three Wise Men parade through every city, town and village and, aided by their pages, they shower the expectant crowds with sweets and candy.

image source: Televisionando

image source: TurismoMadrid

The parades are really spectacular and a feast for the exhilarated children. 

photo by Sonia Tercero - LaRioja.com

The catch is that on 7 January they have to go back to school, so they hardly have time to enjoy their presents and play with their new toys.

However!

The Santa Claus tradition came to stay about 30 years ago, as Spain gradually abandoned its unfortunate political and cultural isolation and became part of the world. Santa Claus brought with him dazzling Christmas trees and presents for Christmas day. So now the children in Spain receive presents twice: first from Santa and then from the Three Wise Men.

Anyone wants to become a Spanish child?

16 comments:

  1. Hmmm...seems like Spain is a great place to be a kid! I'm glad to hear that the older, far more interesting traditions continue. Christmas has become so commercialized...esp here in the USA. Thanks for sharing this info. I'm really looking forward to learning more about Spain. My husband and I have talked about visiting Spain at some point in the future.

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    1. Consumerism took over Christmas everywhere, I'm afraid. Imagine having to buy and give presents twice in 12 days! But the children obviously enjoy them, unaware of their delight's impact on the market.

      I'm sure you'll like Spain if you decide to come. It's a large country (by European standards) and offers a huge variety of places to visit and things to do.

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  2. Is there an age limit to being a child in Spain? Just wondering...

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    1. I don't think so, Jennifer, or they would have kicked me out a long time ago :)))

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  3. OK....I am moving to Spain!!! and I haven't demonstrated the wrapping on my blog Ersi as it is part of one of my classes....sorry!
    http://karenannruane.typepad.com/karen_ruane/

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    Replies
    1. If you're moving to Spain because of my blog entry, I consider it one of the most successful I've ever written! Wouldn't it be wonderful to be neighbours!

      Tough luck with the thread wrapping though. I can't take any classes right now...

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  4. That is interesting to know, I just heard something about this custom on the radio.Its a shame that each country gradually loses something of its identity. Just like the shops here, they all begin to look the same. I hope you try paste papers and enjoy them.

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    1. Not everything turns out well in our globalized world. I will try the paste papers, I'm sure they are great fun!

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  5. Thanks for sharing your lovely custom Ersi. What a pity the commercial Santa had to appear on the scene. Also I have a feeling that St Nicholaas the dutch much earlier "santa" also came from Spain. And of course dutch children also now have both St Nicholaas day and Christmas. Looking forward to more customs from Spain.

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    1. Something similar happened in Greece, where traditionally it is Saint Basil that brings presents on New Year's Eve. He dresses like Santa Claus and rides a sleigh too. Nevertheless, the western tradition became part of Greek customs decades ago and most children get presents twice -brough by what looks like the same guy!

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  6. this is a nice idea... featuring facts about Spain. This one makes me realize that I don't think I've ever wondered what those three kings do AFTER meeting baby Jesus...

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    1. Now you know. They come to Spain! No hostilities with the Santa competitor have been reported so far :)

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  7. 'Tis good to be always learning is it not? Thanks for this little snippet of Spain - I'm yet to visit so it all adds to the magic and wanderlust!

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    1. I think sharing these little facts will be fun. If by any chance you come to Spain in January, don't forget to look out for the Three Kings!

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  8. I will so enjoy hearing all your snippets about Spain as I will be there for three weeks in March. A wonderful way to learn about the culture. Thanks Ersi. Had to chuckle at Jennifer's comment. Would like to be a big kid in Spain .... soon will be I guess.

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    Replies
    1. Big kids are very welcome here, small kids love them! Thanks Susan, I hope you will indeed enjoy the series.

      (Email coming soon...)

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