When I was growing up, I remember studying some form of "Christmas Around the World" almost every year in December. Whatever book or video we happened to be looking at showed the ways different Christian countries celebrate Christmas. The focus was usually on gift giving traditions, since that's what kids are primarily focused on. I remember these stories and pictures seem so far away and exotic compared to what we habitually celebrated in the United States.
Even though Barcelona and Madrid are usually the first stops in Spain for travelers, we did it backwards. Travel during our first few months in Spain has focused on smaller cities with mostly historical significance and many historic sites, such as Sevilla, Toledo, and Granada. So, when we headed to Madrid last week over the Feast of the Immaculate Conception holiday, I was overwhelmed by the energy and crowds. First, we learned that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a big deal in Spain. It is the day the Roman Catholics (meaning almost all Spaniards) celebrate the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary. In non-religious terms, it is also the day that kicks off the Christmas season, so people are ready to get out and look at lights, go out to dinner and clubs, and start their shopping. I became aware of how popular this holiday is when I tried to extend our Madrid stay and every single hotel in Madrid was booked. That's a lot of hotel rooms.
It's been a while since I've posted a blog because, after being her for five months, life takes over. I suppose it is interesting in itself that I don't feel like rushing to write something after everything that happens here. In fact, things are starting to feel rather ordinary. My sister came to visit in October and I tried to remember how things looked to me when we first got here. Now, that we are acclimating, it's good to keep paying attention to differences before we forget what they are.
Sally and her family have moved to Spain for a year starting July 2017. They are living in a little town called Puzol, which is about 12km north of Valencia. Her kids, Carson and Celia, are attending the American School of Valencia, an International School located in Puzol. The goal for the whole family is to experience another way of life, and learn Spanish. This blog tracks their travels and experiences.