Traditions, Values and Young People

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Christmas Customs in Spain
(and especially in Ibi)

On Christmas Eve, in Spain, we celebrate Jesus’ birth and we have some traditions for this. On 8th December, families build up the crib (belen) in their homes with the main characters representing the town of Bethlehem where Jesus was born.

At Christmas time, we sing some special songs called carols about Jesus that we’ve known since we were young; they are one of the most typical traditions. In the afternoon children go for a walk around the town, they visit the houses and sing carols with some musical instruments like tambourines, flutes and “zambombas” and people give them some typical sweets or money. It is really nice to see the kids singing carols, this is one of the most beautiful traditions.

zambomba
A zambomba.
Source: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archivo:Zambomba-Pe%C3%B1aAmigosCa%C3%B1izo-Jerez-P1010344.JPG. Copyright: see that page.

On Christmas Eve, All the family has dinner early. There is not a typical menu for this day but there is some very common food like shellfish, meat refills, and fish cooked in the oven. We usually eat pineapple for dessert and then some “polvorones” with cider and champagne. After that we go to a special mass called “la misa del gallo”. It is a mass that we celebrate at midnight to begin Christmas Day and it proclaims Jesus’ birth.

We celebrate Christmas Day with the family and we have lunch. Here in our town, it is typical to eat a soup with chick-peas and a meat ball. After this, we sing some carols, and we eat “polvorones” again. In the afternoon, some friends come and visit you to wish you Merry Christmas. Some people go to visit their relatives and spend Christmas Days with them.

polvoron
Polvoron.
Source: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archivo:Polvor%C3%B3n_de_Estepa.jpg. Copyright: see that page.

After lunch, it is a tradition that uncles, aunts and grandparents give kids some money as a present that we call “estrenas”.

Here in Ibi we have some typical festivities called “Els Enfarinats”, “Els Tapats” and “Les Danses” that we celebrate on the 28th of December.

On the 28th of December, a group of people called “Els Enfarinats” take the power of the town for that day. There is a war between two groups with flour and fireworks. The one who wins has the power, but it is all theatre, not real. The Enfarinats can fine the shops, banks or citizens and the money raised is donated to an old people's residence.

enfarinats

Some people, called the tapats, are disguised with old clothes and you canot know if they are men or women because their faces are covered with rags and they have painted faces. They dance along the streets, using regional folk music played with a special flute and a drum.

tapats

The dances take place in the afternoon. A group of wives and husbands dance with elegant clothes in the street and this is the last order of the Enfarinats’ Mayor. At night, there is a Great Dance in which people can dance regional folk dances with this group of specially dressed dancers.

The "bandos" appear on the 27th of December. The same people who belong to the “Enfarinats” go around the town centre in a truck, followed by a great number of people. In the “bandos” they criticize (in Valencian) things that happened during the year. This is a good moment to be with friends and laugh.

In Spain we also celebrate the last day of the year and we call it “Nochevieja”. When we were children we celebrated it with our parents and our family but now we have dinner with our friends. At midnight we eat twelve grapes at the time of the clock's bell rings, according to a tradition in which you have to eat one grape with each bell ring. Some people go to the church square of the town where they eat the grapes with others and welcome the new year.

On the first day of the new year all the family has lunch together and it is a day to play and rest with the relatives at home.

On the 2nd of January there are some telegrams in the town that say that the Three Wise Men will come on the 5th of January.

telegrama

On the 4th of January we celebrate the letter’s day. During this day children are the most important. They go with their parents to give their letters to the Three Wise Men messengers. In the letters, children write down all the presents they wish to have. In Ibi, this is a very important day because we have a monument for the Three Wise Men and a square dedicated to them. We also have an organisation that makes it very real to keep children’s dreams alive.

On the 5th of January in the afternoon, the Three Wise Men come to the town in a parade and they give candies to the children and kiss them too. The people who participate are the people of the town that want to keep the tradition alive. It is very real and when the parade finishes the assistants of the Three Wise Men give the children their presents. We go home and wait for these assistants to come. When they arrive, they kiss the children, give them the present, and the parents give them some money or something to drink.

the Magi

Then there is a dinner with the family. The menu is not the same every year but for dessert there is a ring cake that has small figures and a bean inside and if you find the bean you have to pay for the ring cake the next year.

ring cake

Next day, the 6th of January, is a bank holiday, so nobody works. Children can play with the toys that they have received and it is a day to be with the family and enjoy the last day of the holidays.