Christmas Around the World with CurrClick has partnered with myself and nine other homeschool bloggers this week. Each one of us will be giving goodies away during our bloggy event so be sure to check the schedule and stop by each site to learn about Christmas in other countries, enter the giveaways and maybe even make some new friends! Read all the way to the bottom to learn how to enter today’s giveaway here on my blog!
Christmas in Spain is celebrated much differently than in America. One major difference? Santa Claus is no where to be found! In Spain, the Christmas season is marked by several special days of celebration. From beginning to end the Christmas festivities last about a month long.
It officially begins on December 8 (that’s tomorrow!) for Inmaculada or The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. At the great cathedral in Seville, a city in the southwestern part of Spain, a special dance called Los Seises is performed by ten boys in honor of the Virgin Mary, patron saint of Spain. The boys’ costumes are very elaborate. The dance has precise movements and never varies from year to year.
Nativity scenes called nacimientos are set up in public squares and homes throughout Spain. The nacimientos are also called “Belen,” for Bethlehem, because they are very detailed and contain more than just the traditional figures. They represent the whole town of Bethlehem! Women doing laundry, olive harvesters, open markets, bullfighters and other scenes of everyday life are depicted.
Christmas Eve is known as Nochebuena, “The Good Night” or “The Blessed Night.” It is a time for families to gather together. As darkness falls, bonfires will be lit in public squares while oil lamps or candles are lit in homes. Many families will fast all day. At midnight the festivities are interrupted by the chimes of the local church calling worshipers to “La Misa Del Gallo” (Mass of the Rooster). Spanish tradition states that a rooster crowed the night (not the morning) that Jesus was born. The Benedictine monastery at Montserrat near Barcelona holds the biggest misa del gallo with a boys’ choir performing the Mass. After Mass families will return home to break their fast with a wonderful Christmas dinner where they will feast until the early hours of the morning. An old Spanish verse says…”Esta noche es Noche-Buena, Y no es noche de dormir” (“This is the good-night, therefore it is not meant for sleep!”) The menu of the Christmas meal varies depending on the region of Spain: seafood and fish on the coast, suckling pig and lamb in Castile and Leon, birds in Andalucia. A traditional Christmas treat is turron, a kind of almond candy.
Christmas Day or Navidad is set aside as more family time, feasting, and church going. Some gifts might be exchanged among adults, but children must wait 12 more days until January 6th.
There is a tradition in Spain of eating twelve grapes at the twelve bongs of midnight on New Year’s Eve, one grape with each bong. With each grape eaten a wish is made for the new year.
As mentioned earlier, Santa Claus does not play into the Christmas festivities in Spain. Children receive their gifts from the Three Kings instead! Three Kings Day, or La Dia de Los Reyes, also known as Epiphany is January 6th. The festivities begin the day before with a big parade welcoming the Three Kings to town. Here are the Three Kings at the Cavalgata, or Three King’s parade, in downtown Malaga this past January 6th.
On Epiphany Eve (January 5th) children will leave their shoes out filled with straw, barley, or carrots for the camels of the Wise Men. The next morning the children will wake to find the straw, barley and carrots have been replaced with gifts for them.
I have enjoyed sharing some of the traditions of my cultural heritage with you! A HUGE thank you to my friend Andalucy for providing all the photos for this post. She lives in Spain right now with her family.
Below you will find other ideas to incorporate in your study of Christmas in Spain.
* Vocabulary – look for the bold Spanish words above. Find the definitions either right before or after them to learn what they mean in English.
* Geography – Find Spain on a map or globe of the world. Now on this more detailed map of Spain find the cities that were mentioned in the article.
* Music – My grandfather, Avi, grew up in Barcelona. (My name, Montserrat, comes from the monastery just outside of Barcelona) One song Avi always sang at Christmas was the Catalan Christmas Carol Fum, Fum, Fum. Here is a recording my sister made of him singing in Catalan three Christmases before he died. My father is playing the guitar. Be sure to turn the volume up as the recording is rather quiet.
It is one of my favorite Christmas songs so here is another dose, in English, sung by the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
* Art – Watch this video to see how to make paper plate crowns to wear on Dia de Los Reyes or Three Kings Day.
And for older children follow the instructions at Scribbit for making Tiny Gift Boxes to represent the gifts given on Three Kings Day.
To enter the giveaway please leave one comment about something you learned from today’s unit study! There are six prizes so there will be six winners! Giveaway will be open until Sunday, December 12th, at 5pm (PST). If you don’t have a blog please be sure to leave some way to contact you in your comment. Thanks!
Prizes for today include:
Christmas Copywork by Lilliput Station
Let your child learn the true story of Christmas as they practice their writing skills. This file contains fourteen different copywork pages with verses from the KJV Bible and one with a verse from a hymn. Each page is illustrated with black and white drawings and comes with both primary and straight lines.
A Brief Look at CHRISTmas Traditions Around the World by Creative Learning Connection
A quick look at CHRISTmas scriptures, dates, and traditions from around the world. A fun and interesting way to add to your CHRISTmas study with your students of all ages.
Spain Unit Study by Homeschool Learning Network
Spain is a land that has a rich history, it has been occupied for over 4,000 years! Come join HLN to learn more about this amazing country. Lesson Plans Include: Spanish Basics!, Living Abroad in Spain: A WebQuest, Al Restaurante, Saving the World, Explore Madrid!, Spanish Folklore, We Invite You to Visit Madrid and Barcelona, Where in Europe is Spain?
Our Global Village – Spain by Milliken
Bring the world a little closer with these multicultural books. An excellent way for students to appreciate and learn cultural diversity in an exciting hands-on format. Each book explores the history, language, holidays, festivals, customs, legends, foods, creative arts, lifestyles, and games of the title country. A creative alternative to student research reports and a time-saver for teachers since the activities and resource material are contained in one book.
36 Classic Christmas Tales, Comprehension, Grammar & Vocabulary by St Aiden’s Homeschool
This series of tales which sketch such vivid and delightful scenes of the vibrant life of meadow and woodland, winter and snow, reindeer and jolly men in red suits, should have tremendous appeal to little and older people alike. These stories have sought to convey a three-fold lesson throughout, the first based upon natural history, the second of social skills and the third the elementary principles of living which should be made clear to every child at the earliest age of understanding. Grammar, imagination, vocabulary and critical thinking skills form an integral part of each unit study.
Package from Eastern Wind Academy, which contains Spanish Flashcard sets on Animals, Counting and Number Words, Pronunciation and Alphabet, Colors and Shapes Learning to speak a second language is so important in today’s global culture. However, teaching your child a second language isn’t always easy, especially if you do not speak that language yourself. However, games can make the process easier and more fun for everyone. When kids are having fun, they don’t even realize they’re learning! This also helps create a love of learning in the child, which will serve a child well throughout their lifetime!