Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas in Spain

Here in Spain there are some neat traditions at Christmas time. On Christmas Eve families get together and have dinner (around 9:30 pm, the normal Spanish time for dinner), then they celebrate together on Christmas day as well, but they don’t usually have a visit from Santa Clause (Papa Noel.) They have a different tradition that begins on January 5, but before that they celebrate New Years Eve by eating 12 grapes on each stroke of the clock at midnight (hopefully they are small and seedless, and actually you can buy small cans of 12 seedless, peeled grapes for this occasion.) Then on Jan. 5 there is a parade in which the three kings; the black king is named Baltasar, the brown bearded king is named Melchor, and then the white haired and bearded king is named Gaspar. The parade travels through town with candy for the children. In the homes that evening the children leave out three bowls of water for the kings’ camels and traditional Spanish Christmas foods and goodies for the three kings. The children also place a pair of shoes out near the food so that the kings will know how many children are in the home. The next morning, the children wake up to find gifts left for them from the three kings. This custom helps people remember that this season is about the birth of Jesus and the visit the three kings made to bring gifts to the King of Kings.

Immanuel – God with us

I love Christmas time. I love seeing the lights on the houses, the smells in the air, the tastes of all of the special dishes and sweets, the sounds of Christmas carols, the feel of snow crunching beneath my feet. I love Christmas. One year I was living in Africa just before Christmas. Christmas was very different in Africa. Most of the people did not celebrate Christmas, so you didn’t see Christmas everywhere like you do in America. The weather was very hot so it didn’t feel like Christmas. One thing I will never forget is singing Christmas carols to the beat of an African drum. That year, right before Christmas day I returned to America. One of the first places that I ended up going after I got off of the plane was a Wal-Mart store. I remember being so excited and just turning around in circles in the middle of the store looking at all of the Christmas decorations and just stuff because I love Christmas. My favorite thing about Christmas is that it is the time of year that is meant to remind us of Immanuel – God with us; the fact that God came to earth to be with us.

That day in the Wal-Mart store, Christmas just seemed so huge to me since I had just come from a country that didn’t celebrate Christmas, but the real enormity of Christmas is really stated in those four words: Immanuel – God with us.

Matthew 1:23 “’The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’”—which means, “God with us.” NIV

Thank you for praying for us during this holiday season when we are away from loved ones.

Merry Christmas from the Whitley’s in Spain!


Dianne Webb said...

Merry Christmas to the Whitleys! I am praying for you tonight. At Christmas, we are reminded of all the blessings Christ brings into our lives - and you are certainly a blessing to us. God bless you as you share his love during this special season.

Love you,
The Webbs

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