Although the festivities go on for the best part of a month – starting with la Concepción Inmaculada on December 8th (or possibly el Día de la Constitución on the 6th) and not ending until Twelfth Night when los Reyes bring the children’s presents – it never seems very Christmassy in Spain.
For a start there may be snow on the mountains, but there’s also glorious sunshine and it’s still daylight till after 6pm.
For the last few days we’ve been having carols piped over the council tannoy system for a couple of hours every morning in the village, but other than the Little Drummer Boy, there aren’t many tunes that actually mean anything to me. As for the Christmas decorations, they’re quite low key everywhere this year. In Madrid the lighting up times are being limited, and somewhere down in the south they’ve actually replaced the light bulbs with empty plastic bottles.
Here in the village there are ornate structures strung across the streets as usual, but I thought it looked as it there were to be no lights, just coloured rafia. That was doing them an injustice, it seems: having gone out after dark tonight, for the first time since they were hung up, I see they are in fact threaded with coloured leds, which isn’t half as bad as I feared.
I suppose it’s all part of dealing with the recession and not contributing to global warming, but it simply doesn’t look as festive as hundreds of bright bulbs reflected in inky puddles from about 4pm onwards, which is how I remember this time of year in the UK. Of course we have neither the right time zone nor the right weather to produce that effect here.
Still, a neighbour has recently acquired a small flock of sheep and I suppose the sight of them grazing in the olive grove could be fairly Biblical.
Certainly the little snowy white lamb that was there for the first time today did make me wonder whether I could gather it up on my shoulders and head for the temporary stable which has recently been installed outside the castle walls.
However, since the place was seething with local children singing yet more unfamiliar villancicos this evening, I’m glad I restrained myself.