Greetings from Spain! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season this year. Now that I am home from traveling and have a couple days left of Christmas break, I decided it was about time I write an update on my blog.
The Christmas season in Spain was very exciting and beautiful. Madrid was full of Christmas lights, decorations and trees. There were two large Christmas trees that were placed in the center of Madrid (Sol and Plaza Mayor). These trees were massive and there was a city gathering when they lit the tree in Sol. This happened in the end of November and there were people from all over gathering around this tree to watch the lights turn on. It was magical when they turned on, but naturally in Spain it was two hours after the time that is said on the event calendar.
Watching my students get excited for Christmas was the best part of the whole Christmas season.
Here in Madrid, they believe in both Santa Claus and The Three Kings. Although not all of my students believed in both. It just varies on the household and what their family decides to teach their children.
The Three Kings is the main tradition that is celebrated in Spain instead of Santa Claus. The Three Kings or “Los Reyes Magos” is celebrated on January 6th. That is when the Three Kings arrived to Jesus to bring the gifts and that is the day that they gifts arrive to the children in Spain. Unlike the American tradition of getting their gifts on Christmas day, most of my students get their gifts on January 6th from Los Reyes Magos.
Since Santa Claus is kind of a more “American” tradition the concept of Santa Claus was foreign to most of my first grade students. They have Santa Claus but they call him Papa Noel, and the kids that believed in him were very curious to what I thought about Santa Claus.
At some schools in the United States, Santa would come and visit the students. It was unique in Spain because the Three Kings came and visited the students on one of the last days of school before break. The students anxiously waited to have their turn to approach the Three Kings, who were sitting in big luxurious chairs like Santa would. My students went up to them and told them what they wanted to Christmas and if they had been good or bad this year. The kids received little gifts and were very excited about this whole interaction.
My students were very persistent that I should tell “Los Reyes Magos” what I want for Christmas. They were all concerned I would not get my presents if I did not ask for them. It was the sweetest thing.
My students worked all the month of December preparing songs for their Christmas Program. Every grade sang both an English Christmas song and a Spanish Christmas song. My first graders sang “Santa” to the tune of “Bingo” for their English song and my second graders sang “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. Most of these songs were not really related to the Christmas but they got so excited to dance and sing in English so that was enough.
I was very sad to spend two weeks away from my students but I am very excited to be seeing them this week. I am sure they will have plenty of stories and toys to show me at school. I am also sure I will be asked the question of “how do you say in English” about all their new toys and Christmas gifts.