It’s Christmas Eve, and for the first time in my 23 years of life, I’m not at home with my family. On one hand, I could say it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all because I’m far from home and there’s no snow (although they very strangely don’t have any snow back home right now anyway!), but on the other hand I think it feels very much like Christmas. There are lights everywhere, Christmas songs playing in the stores, little kids all dressed up…Christmas is a big deal here, so unless you stay inside all day long, you’re probably going to catch a little Christmas spirit at some point.
I’ve coped with being away from home during the holidays by embracing the experience of Christmas in a different culture. Much is similar, of course, but there are a few differences. For example, here in the Basque Country, the children prefer the fictional character called Olentzero to Santa Claus (coincidentally, Olentzero does EXACTLY the same thing that Santa does, but he lives up in the Basque Mountains, of course ;))
There is no shortage of Christmas goodies, and they’re delightfully different than the ones I’m used to. The most popular Spanish Christmas goodies are polvorón and turrón, both of which come in endless varieties and are really unlike anything I’ve ever eaten:
Tonight, I get to experience a Christmas Eve dinner with a Spanish/Basque family here in Bilbao (the host family of one of my good American friends here.) Then it’s home to open presents with my family via Skype at 5:30pm CST (so 12:30am for me!) Then I have a week packed to the gills with exciting travels to Madrid, Tenerife (one of the Canary Islands) and then back to Madrid for a Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve) to remember 🙂
I’ve been shooting some videos all around Bilbao over the last several weeks leading up to Christmas with the main purpose of putting them together to give my family and friends back home and idea of what Christmas looks like in Bilbao.
Fam, friends, and faithful readers: this one’s for you!
“Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow. Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow. So have yourself a merry little Christmas now!”