Escenas Navideñas

Christmas lights outside Plaza de Armas

The coil of churros was so long, the oil sputtering from the fryer started to burn the man.

¡JODER! ¡COÑO! and a long string of explicatives were his reply before fishing the fried batter out of the oil with a long, wooden stick and a pair of tongs and cutting it with a pair of scissors. Pff, Qué aproveches, he said to me bitterly while sliding them onto a plate and pouring me a cup of hot chocolate.

The truth is that I don’t even like churros. They taste like nothing and the chocolate is scalding and when it gets cold, it forms that nasty skin on top so I lose all antojos to eat it. But it’s Christmas time, and with it comes things like churros and the Iberian ham that I had on my toast that morning.

I’ll be the first to admit that Christmas is probably my least favorite time of year. I get stressed, get sent on guilt trips and can’t deal with the snow. Christmas carols make my head spin, lines are stores drive me crazy and the Salvation Army bells make my ears ring.

But Christmas in Spain doesn’t have any of that. Sure, Calles Sierpes and Tetuan are clogged with chestnut vendors, street performers and shoppers wielding birghtly colored bags, but during a crisis, it’s a welcome sight. People in Spain enjoy the best parts of Christmas – good food and good company. It’s quite common to have a big Christmas lunch or dinner with coworkers, groups of friends and clubs – ours is Monday. Cachina (ham, cheese, sausages) before the main course and a LOT of wine!

The Espiritu Navideno hit me pretty hard this Thursday after my churros. At dusk, the lights in Gran Plaza turned on, the blue and white curves of the Feliz Navidad sparkling. The lady who recharged by transportation card wished me happy holidays while the suit-clad man buying cigarettes from her gave me a warm pat on the back and acted surprised when a pale-skinned, red-haired girl with absolutely no pinta andaluza could wish him a merry Christmas al acento andalu. I walked down Avenida de la Cruz del Campo to avoid buying gifts, passing packs of old ladies, arm and arm, in their fur coats and low heels. A group was having their comida de navidad at a restaurant under heating lamps (it was 60 degrees), still well at it at 6 p.m.

El Corte Ingles’s silver and menacing facade was covered with purple and silver lights, creating a fake snowfall with snowflakes the size of a smart car. The whole place was packed – a big Marshall Fields two days before Christmas – so I checked for a present for my beloved Dona Carmen. The crowds and high prices didn’t overwhelm me.

I bought myself a pair of boots at a shoe store I’ve been eyeing for a week. The woman dropped in a few pieces of truffles and sent me on my way. My hands got cold riding the bike towards the dark streets of Santa Cruz, so I stopped in my friend Juan’s bar, Entrecalles, for a drink. His boss and his friends were having their comida (first course beer, second course anise, dessert whiskey-cola, claro) with a round of flamenco villancicos, or Christmas carols. The light and heat spilled out the doors and into the streets.

In search of the famous caganet, I browsed the stalls of nativity sets clustered around the cathedral, gleaming orange against the deep blue sky. The shops hocked everything from teeny tiny eggs for the posada to a six-inch Lucifer, which is common in Italian manger scenes. I bought a plastic, cutre caganet with a little hunk of poop to add to our own at home. The streets were light by the colored lights strung between buildings and people milled about.

Thoroughly pooped, I headed to Gino’s for our own Christmas dinner among friends. Wine, food and friends? Good Christmas.

Read more about Christmas in Sevilla by clicking here

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English language academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

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