Unlike the UK, Christmas doesn’t start here until December, which is quite refreshing! There’s other things that are different here too:
The real start of the Christmas holidays is on the 22nd December with the lottery – it’s called El Gordo (the fat one!) because the total prize fund is massive – about 2.5 billion euros. The tickets are different to the UK lottery – you get batches with the same number, so you could buy the batch (hundreds of euros) or buy a share in that batch, with each share being €23. It often happens that a whole village will be celebrating as they have all bought a share in the same batch from the local shop, so if that number comes up each share would be about half a million euros before tax. The draw itself takes about 5 hours and is done by children from a school which used to be an orphanage. They reckon 90% of people in Spain buy a ticket, so we have treated ourselves to a single share of a batch – would be rude not to! Apparently it’s a thing to sit and watch the entire draw, but we’ll give that a miss I think!
Generally, Christmas trees are not a thing here. We kept our favourite tree ornaments and have them in a box, but we don’t have a tree to put them on now! There are probably places in Almeria city where we could get a tree, but we don’t really have room in the house for anything more than a tiny tree, we’ve just got a bit creative with some tinsel and battery lights around the place!
Christmas Day is not quite the big thing here that it is in the UK. Yes, it’s a public holiday, but the big meal happens on Christmas Eve followed by midnight mass. The BIG day is the 6th January – Three Kings Day – this is when the children get their presents (which does make sense really!). I think we’ll be keeping the tradition of opening our pressies on Xmas morning and having a nice lunch.
Food – traditional Christmas food here is lobster / seafood, lamb and suckling pig. The sweet treats aren’t big tubs of chocolate – they’re small biscuits and nougat type sweets. We’ve tried a selection of the traditional ones – sorry, but they just not Quality Street I’m afraid – they’re not going to win me over!
I think the strangest thing for us this year will be having a Christmas and New Year without a houseful of family – in our 24 years together we have only ever had one Christmas Day on our own. This is where video calling makes a big difference when you live far from family – I’m guessing a lot of the morning will be spent catching up with everyone!
One thing’s for sure – this Christmas will be very different for us!
Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, Rog and I would like to wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.