Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!

My first Christmas spent anywhere other than my parents' home in's a strange feeling, of not being there to do all the usual traditions. Since it's Christmas Eve, I should be helping my dad make the kipfel (the favorite Stremme cookie) in the kitchen, and finishing wrapping up my gifts. To help sort of follow this tradition, I'm going to go bake another kind of cookie that involves jelly and is German (I think), a linzer cookie. Plus, I do still have some wrapping to do! It's nice to know I can procrastinate in any country :)

One of things I'm most sad about missing is a Christmas Eve church service. The church I'm attending doesn't have one, nor do any of the other churches that we've found. Maybe some of the cathedrals have mass? Anyway, I'll sing Silent Night on my own if I have to!
Christmas is most definitely celebrated here, but the bigger holiday happens on Jan. 6th, el dia de los Reyes Magos (or something to that effect). King's Day. I've been told on the 5th in the evening, there is a parade where the kids dress up in costumes and throw candy into the crowds...I don't know, I'll blog more when it gets closer and I can see for myself!

One thing I have enjoyed is seeing a few different nativities around Alhaurín and in Málaga. There's one outdoors, in front of the main cathedral in town. It has full size figures, and since the floor is filled with hay all the homeless kitties around town have taken up residence beside the baby Jesus. It's really cute, actually! I got a picture of them...
You can see the two curled up together in front of Mary. There were more along the sides of the creche, probably 5 or 6 in all. This was the only life size belén (nativity) I saw.

The others were all in miniature, but were entire villages...the stable was just one part of it! We went to one that was inside a...not a church, I'm not sure what to call it. A place where they store the floats and saints for Santa Semana (Holy week, the week before Easter when they have tons of parades with their favorite saints/icons) Anyway, inside this building they had a little village set up, but when we looked closely we saw that there were little scenes from Jesus' life in different parts. One of him as a boy, while Joseph was working as a carpenter, one of Mary while she was riding on the camel, pregnant, with Joseph was neat, actually. You could always pick the 3 of them our because their figurines had the gold circle/halo around their heads. I didn't get any pictures, because I wasn't sure if it was allowed, but it was fun to look at. And the nice church ladies inside were playing tambourines and singing. Not so much in a performance way, more like they decided to stand in a little circle and sing together, And they offered us drinks. Like, shots of the anise flavored liquor...I don't know what it's called. But these Spanish ladies knew how to party!
The last belén I saw was yesterday, at the main cathedral in Málaga. It was...confusing? It was in miniature, like the other one, but the scene was more like 18th century. The figurines were dressed more 17th or 18th century, I'm not really sure. One guy had a white wig like he should have been in parliament in the 1700s...then we did see the creche at the end of the scene, but it wasn't really a stable. There were animals, and a decorative fountain in the wall behind them..umm..okay. An interpretation of Bethlehem perhaps? was interesting!

Well, the cookies won't make themselves so I better get to work. I hope to blog tomorrow at some point, but if not, then please pray for me as I prepare for my trip to Fez, Morocco! I leave on Sunday the 26th, and I'll be back in Málaga on the 30th. Just a few days, but I excited to see Morocco! Who would have thought I'd ever go to Fez??
¡Feliz Navidad!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas in Malaga

Last Friday I had the chance to go downtown with 2 friends, Lily and Theresa, to see the Christmas lights. Let me tell you, they know how to do lights here! It was beautiful! Around the main plaza, la Plaza de la Constitucion, there is a big pedestrian outdoor shopping area, and they went all out with Christmas lights and more Christmas lights, hung from building to building. Plus, as we were standing in the plaza, a marching band came through, just sort of pushing their way through the crowds. And further down there was an excellent string quartet playing off to one side. It was loud, crowded, bright, and much as I like living in a smaller town, I equally enjoy getting out into the city! After walking around and taking many pictures we found a good sushi restaurant and really, when have I ever refused sushi??
Pictures of the lights...

Friday, December 10, 2010


Last night I had the chance to go to a flamenco show at the local cultural center. It was so much fun to watch! It was put on by a local dancing school, and it seemed like a recital of sorts. Which made it all the more fun, because there were dancers of all ages and skill levels- from a 4 year old that stood completely still and just played with  her dress and smiled, to the adults who danced  and moved their hands beautifully. Flamenco is fascinating to much of it is in the hands and how they twist and turn them in the air. There were several different styles of flamenco, which I never realized there was more than one style. Some involved castanets and soft shoes, and others were more about the stomping and clapping rhythms. And the costumes! Some were wildly inappropriate for little girls to be wearing on stage (gold bikini-like tops? really?) but most were what you would picture for flamenco dancers. Mermaid style gowns with big ruffles that trailed behind on the floor, hair in tight buns and big flowers pinned in. I didn't get any pictures of the adults, but I couldn't resist these little ones in their orange ruffle dresses...they were so cute!
We all had a really good time watching the recital...and at the end they all gathered on stage and had what I refer to as a jam session. Dancing improv, as they clapped to the beat and called to each other to come forward and dance in the semi circle. Oh, it looked like so much fun, it's tempting to find some flamenco lessons! And, at the end of each performance people from the audience shouted "Ole!" Ah, what a Spanish experience.

Tonight I'm headed into downtown Malaga to see the Christmas lights in the shopping/pedestrian area. I saw them up last time I was in town, unlit, so I'm excited to see them all lit up. Pictures will come of that! I did take a pic of my mini-tree. I like it! And it was only 6.49 Euro. Not bad for a little tree :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hello, December!

Felices Fiestas!
I've seen that expression in lights around town, and the closest I can gather is that it is the equivalent of our generic, secular Happy Holidays. (Literal translation is Happy Parties...) I prefer Feliz Navidad!

I decided not to go home for Christmas this year. I was going back and forth about it, which meant I waited until flights got to be rather pricey. I finally decided to take advantage of being on this side of the Atlantic and fully experience Spain during Christmastime. It'll be weird to not be home for making cookies with my dad, Christmas Eve dinner and church service, and all the traditions that Christmas brings with it. But I have a wonderful group of people here who are more than welcoming and will gladly draw me in to join in the Christmas festivities. And, I even bought a little tree about 2 ft. tall, and little inexpensive ornaments to decorate it with. Can't have Christmas without a tree :) I would post a picture but I haven't take it out of it's little box yet. Soon, though.

One thing that made it feel like Christmas was going shopping this weekend. There was Christmas music, mostly in English...the mall was all decorated inside with lights and a big tree, and there were huge crowds- just like back home. A mall is a mall, no matter where you are. They had an H&M, Sephora, Claire's, and a few other common stores. The main difference I would say is the food court. Well, I wouldn't call it a food court, because the only fast food option was McD's (of course), then the rest were all little cafes/restaurants where you need to sit down and order. It's just much more common to take time to sit down and eat, especially for the main 2:30ish meal. It's a good thing, to slow down and enjoy each other's company.

That's it for now...I will try and blog more frequently this month!