Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Shopping in Madrid, Spain

Our family outside of the Madrid Department Store
El Corte Ingles in 2006
Plaza de Sol, Madrid, Spain
This post is for the Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories and today's theme is "shopping".  My favorite place for Christmas shopping has to be in Madrid, Spain.  We have visited my in-laws in Madrid four or five times for Christmas, which is fun because Christmas lasts until January 6th in Spain, which is the day gifts are exchanged and the night that children receive presents from "Los Reyes Magos" or the Three Kings.  All of Madrid is lit with hundreds of light displays and nativity scenes.
Buying figures for your home nativity set at the Plaza Mayor,
in Madrid-- there are hundreds of stalls selling nativity figures, animals
tiny trees, buildings and supplies of all kinds!
The Plaza Mayor, or main square, is set up as a giant "Mercado Navideño" or Christmas Fair, selling decorations, gifts, and best of all, hundreds of stalls selling pieces for nativity sets from one inch to life size.  You can buy figures of the Holy Family, the wise men, animals, and of course, hundreds of townspeople for your own "Belen" (the Spanish word for Bethlehem).  Most Spanish nativities feature many townspeople, including shepherds, tradespeople, Roman soldiers, and peasants.  Every Spanish nativity has a tiny well, and many have a naughty little figure called the "el cagón".  The well is for a popular Christmas carol about Mary washing Jesus's swaddling clothes in a well, and the other... well, it's so naughty you will just have to Google it!
On the streets of Madrid at Christmas time you can sit
on a King's lap, instead of Santa's lap.
This is my daughter with one of the 3 Kings, 1998
The Mercado Navideño also sells masks and costumes for the "Dia de los Innocentes" or Day of the Innocents on December 28th.  This is the day that marks the massacre of the "innocents" by King Herod in the Bible story.  In Spain it is celebrated like our Halloween, when children dress up in costumes as disguises.  There are also decorations for sale for New Year's Day, and Christmas Trees for sale, although most people celebrate Three Kings instead of Santa Claus in Spain.  The 12 Days of Christmas between December 25th and January 6th are a busy time with lots of parties and celebrations in Spain and other Spanish speaking countries!  It all ends when there is a huge parade down the Avenida Castellana when the Three Kings arrive in Madrid, complete with horses, camels, elephants and gifts, and it is televised for the children all over Spain.

Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

No comments:

Post a Comment