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Archive for the ‘Spanish-speaking countries’ Category

Why not celebrating New Year’s Eve in Spain?

Not only will it be an opportunity to celebrate the New Year’s Eve with friends but also to attend a great nationwide event.

In Spain, the 31st December’s evening, called the Nochevieja, is a unique event celebrated until dawn. In order to celebrate the New Year, the Spanish, with their relatives or between friends, finish their dinner with twelve grapes, eating one grape every time the clock strikes midnight. According to the Spanish tradition, the people being able to swallow the twelve grapes on time will enjoy a happy and prosperous year.

In many cities of the country, people will meet in front of a church or another symbolic place where a clock stands, in order to eat the grapes and to enjoy the end of the year.

However, the greatest symbol of this tradition is the Puerta del Sol, in Madrid. Every year, thousands of people will meet in front of the clock of this symbolic place to celebrate the New Year’s Eve. This event therefore becomes nationwide. The campanadas (when the clock strikes) of the Puerta del Sol are broadcast on TV throughout the country.

People will show a happy outburst and drink some cava, Catalonia’s sparkling wine. Then the streets are full of young people, music and cars that hoot their horn to celebrate the New Year.

But this is not the end of the celebration. The country’s bars, pubs and clubs open all night long and many hotels and restaurants organize special evenings including the dinner, the grapes and other activities.

So, if you do not have any plans for the New Year’s Eve or if you wish to celebrate it differently, do not hesitate!

Go to Spain!

Moan’Phisémy

Here are a few links for further reading in English and Spanish:

1) The origins of the Spanish New Year’s Eve (English)

2) Planning one’s New Year’s Eve in Spain (Spanish)

3) Going to the Puerta del Sol (Spanish)

New Year’s celebration in Madrid (in Spanish)

While we are waiting until Christmas eve to celebrate, the Mexican families are already having fun!

In Mexico, Christmas celebrations begin the 16th at night, and continue until Christmas eve. It is called the posadas, literally « inn » or « hospitality ».

Friends or neighbours gather in front of the house within which the party is going to take place. They start to sing and ask for shelter for the night to the family that is receiving.  It symbolises Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem. Once the song is finished, all the « pilgrims » go inside and the party can start. Everyone drinks and eats the food the family has prepared. The most traditional beverage is a hot fruit-based beverage called ponche.

Then comes the moment to break the  piñata. Originally, they were made of a clay pot covered with papier-mâché and crepe paper. The most traditional piñata is shaped like a star with 7 points. The points symbolize the  7 deadly sins. But nowadays, you can find piñatas of various sizes, shapes and colours. Each person in turn is blindfolded and tries to break the piñata with a stick. The rest of the people sing a little song during which the participant has to break the piñata; otherwise, the next person is blindfolded. It goes on until the piñata is finally broken. In order to be sure that the blindfolded person will not break the piñata, the other people shout wrong directions to misguide him/her. In a very sadistic version, the piñata is suspended from a rope that can be easily moved. The person in charge of the rope can then lower, raise, push or pull the piñata. It makes the breaking more interesting but a lot more difficult. Once the piñata is broken, all the children rush below it and try to collect the candy that falls out. If there is a second piñata, the same thing starts over.

The next day, the same party starts over in a different home. Quite often, you can see these parties taking place between neighbours of a whole street. Each day, the hosting family is different, but the people invited remain the same.

Moan’Phisémy

If you want to make your own piñata

Learn more about Christmas in Mexico

More about the piñatas and the piñata song

« -So where are going on holidays?

-To Vigo.

-Hem…Vigo…I thought we were going to Spain! You know Madrid, Barcelona, Granada…

-And Vigo! You will see, it is a magnificent city! Furthermore, it is on the Atlantic coast, in Galicia, in the province of Pontevedra. It is not its capital but it still is the largest city in this province.

-Fine. But what will we see there?

What is there to see in Vigo? Well many things! First of all, there is the historic quarter, the Cidade Vella, with its fishing district (O Berbés) near the harbour, its archways “Plaza de la Constitución”, its coats of arms, its collegiate church known as “Colegiata de Santa María”…the procathedral of Vigo-Tui, superb example of neoclassical construction built upon the ruins of a Gothic church burned down by a “pirate”: who was no other than Sir Francis Drake. While you are there, do not forget to try the famous Galician oysters in the Pedra Market. After the historic quarter, the more modern Vigo awaits you between Puerta del Sol, Colón and Urzáiz. From the cultural García Barbón Cultural Centre, designed by Antonio Palacios, to the Monte do Castro in which are located the old fortifications, “castros”, and the ruins of the 10th-century O Penso Castle which was replaced by the Tower Castle during the seventeenth century, this section of Vigo is full of places worth seeing.

For art lovers, in addition to the numerous statues which are spread throughout the city, visiting the Municipal Park of Castrelos is a must. You will have the pleasure of discovering neoclassical gardens, a collection of Roman steles, furniture and sculptures, a rich art gallery and also an open-air auditorium whose musical events will delight your ears.

To carry on with museum tours, the next meeting place is the Punta do Muiño, in the parish of Alcabre, at the Galician Museum of the Sea designed by Aldo Rossi and César Portella.

Finally, should you wish to rise above Vigo, the mounts of A Madroa and A Guía provide fantastic outlooks along with the opportunity to visit the zoological park and the hermitage of Nosa Señora da Guía.

And above all, if there is something one cannot miss during a trip or visit to Vigo, it is the Cíes Islands or “Islands of the Gods”. Not only can they boast of having the most beautiful beach in the world (according to the Guardian) and of being a world whose crystal clear waters of an intense turquoise-blue and fine white sand are a sight one never gets tired of watching. They are also an area of great ecological value, rich in seabirds colonies and houses sea beds. In fact, the Cíes Islands belong to the National Park of the Atlantic Islands

So as to preserve this incredible site and its biodiversity, access to the islands is limited to 2200 people each day. A boat regularly sails to the islands from Vigo and other locations during the Holy Week, week-ends in May and during the summer. From June the fiftieth to September the fiftieth, it is possible to stay (for a limited period of two weeks) at a camping for 800 tents. If you find that appealing, you must make a phone call (at the +34 986-43-83-58 or the +34 986-68-70-50) and acquire an authorization from the camping office located at the nautical station in Vigo.

To give an example of cultural event, we can mention the celebrations of Bouzas (a parish located in the free zone of Vigo). These celebrations take place during the third week of July. This event consists in five days of celebration during which several ceremonies take place. The first of them is the reading of the speech on Friday afternoon. The “knight of Bouzas”, individuals especially important for Bouzas, are also nominated during this ceremony.

Events for every taste and every age take place during this celebration, from children to elder people. Thus, it includes puppet theatres, “giant and Big Heads” shows, sport tournaments, popular games, the Felucca boat-race during which young people build boats from plate drums or the dinner-tribute to the eldest.

On the religious plane, in addition to the decoration of the Altar of Christ of Bouzas, three important events can be underlined:
-the Christ of martyrs ‘procession followed by fireworks accompanied by music and poems dealing with particular subjects. This event takes place on Sunday evening.
-the procession dedicated to “Our Lady of Mount Carmel”, patron saint of fishermen, from the church to the beach to display the portrait on a rowing boat so as to pay tribute to sailors lost at sea, followed by a flotilla of smaller boats. This event takes place on Monday afternoon.
-the procession dedicated to the Miraculous catch of fish as a tribute to San Pere Pescador.

“-So, are you convinced?

“-Here we go!”

Some interesting links for further reading in English and Spanish:

1) Vigo’s geography (in English)

2) Walking inside Vigo (in Spanish)

3) Knowing the city of Vigo (in Spanish)

Moan’Phisémy

Étiquettes : , , , , ,

Madrid is one of these cities in Spain where there is always something to do. This city is a land of wonders, all of them really attractive. A stay in Madrid is not really memorable if you have not taken time to visit the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium or enjoy local food at a flamenco restaurant for instance.

Why not try and fit in the crowd and become a real “madrileño” with all the habits that it takes?

First of all, what you need to know is that it is quite hard to meet real “madrileños”, for Madrid has always been a city of immigrants and foreigners. Given the fact that a big majority of the people born in Madrid has their parents coming from other cities in Spain, Madrid features indeed a wide mix of different regional and international cultures. It is then easier for a foreigner to fit with the crowd and quickly feels at home there. In other words, you don’t need to be from Madrid to feel as a real “madrileño”.

Swinging between traditions and typical holidays, here are some must be seen events taking place for most of them between April and October:

-Religious people can enjoy « Semana Santa » processions celebrating Easter. Indeed Spanish people are still great believers.

-In a more popular way, on May 15th is celebrated one of the most important holidays in Madrid. Indeed, it is the San Isidro Holiday, who is Madrid’s patron saint. This holiday outshines Madrid’s culture in general and is a great opportunity to attend various shows for free such as bullfights, traditional dances, concerts and even plays.

-On the night of June 23rd, the San Juan Holiday is celebrated at the Retiro Park. It features a firework show organized to celebrate the longest day of the year.

-In August, several celebrations take place in a lot of districts in Madrid (la Latina, Lavapiés and las Vistillas) such as the San Lorenzo, San Cayetano and la Virgen de la Paloma Holidays.

-On October 12th, Madrid, as well as other Spanish cities, celebrates the national day of Spain. A lot of military parades are held in the downtown.

People from Madrid love to hang out and meet new people. Madrid is the European capital where they sleep less. Streets are always crowded and “madrileños” are well-known for their hospitality, sympathy and “fiestas”.

As a city, but also an autonomous community, in Madrid the most spoken language is “Castilian”, known officially as “Spanish”, which makes the city the perfect place to party but to learn and improve in Spanish also.

Links:

http://www.french.ailmadrid.com/madrid/fiestas

http://www.whatmadrid.com/guidemadrid/madrilene.html

http://www.lepetitjournal.com/madrid/a-la-une-madrid/76409-sortir–les-processions-les-plus-spectaculaires-de-la-semaine-sainte.html

http://www.gomadrid.com/activity/

Videos about « Semana Santa » :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTayVc07B2E

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MaBbirvK8Y

Moan’Phisémy

You wouldn’t enjoy your stay in Granada, the mythical town of Andalusia, without tasting the Spanish “tapas” as appetizers served in small parts. Granada has numerous and diverse “tapas”: escargots with sauce, potatoes “a lo pobre”, breaded fish, “migas” and meat skewers are an integral part of Andalusian cuisine.

Furthermore, no one has to pay for the tapas in Granada: they are free of charge and served with a drink in any bar. In Andalusia, during the day or by night, you can’t avoid eating tapas with your friends.

If you want to experience Granada’s “tapeo”, you can’t miss the bars of the Albaizín, Campo del Principe and Calle Elvira.

However, Granada’s cuisine is not only about “tapas”. Owing to Christian, Jewish and Arab influences, the cuisine has become rich and original particularly, with the use of honey and spices in meals. The traditional beef stew, “la olla de San Antón”, the omelette “Tortilla del Sacromonte” and the salad made with cod-fish and oranges, “Remojón”, are among Granada’s typical meals.

If you like tapas and other Andalusian specialties, here is a list of the best bars in town:

1) Bodegas Espadafor: Calle Darro (close to Vía Colón). Open from 2 pm to 4 pm and from 8 pm until dawn.

2) Los Diamantes: Calle Navas, 26. Open from 8 pm until dawn.

3) Ermita: Avenida Doctor Oloriz, 25 (Plaza de Toros). Open from 9 pm until dawn.

4) Bodegas Castañeda: Calle de Almireceros, 1. Open from 11:30 am to 4 pm and from pm until dawn.

5) Café Elvira: Calle Elvira, 85. Open from 1:30 pm to 1:15 am.


A few links to Andalusian cuisine for further reading in English and Spanish:

A diverse and rich cuisine (English)

All the secrets of Andalusian cuisine (Spanish)

The best places to eat in Granada (Spanish)

If you are going to Mexico in the beginning of November and you find yourself in the middle of the Día de los muertos, do not tell the first Mexican you encounter that he/she is late for Halloween!

Don’t be afraid if someone is offering  a sugar skull. This person doesn’t want you dead.

Here are some explanations that may prevent the cultural shock.
The « Day of the Dead » is a tradition more than 3,000 years old. On November 1st and 2nd, the souls of the deceased people come back to earth. This is why  families are having parties in the honour of the departed.

Private altars are built inside the houses and on the graves. Families sing as they go to the cemeteries; they clean and decorate the grave with offerings such as flowers and food: the favourite foods and beverages of the departed,  tequila bottles, cigarettes  (if he/she was a smoker), calaveras  (« skulls » made of sugar or chocolate), pan de muertos (« bread of the dead ») some kind of bun covered with sugar, copal (incense)… In the most traditional region, you will see families dancing, singing and eating next to the grave all night long.

Their way of seeing death is quite different from ours. It is not something frightening you have to fear. On the contrary, the Mexicans make fun of death, they play and live together with death. You will certainly see some Catrinas (elegant skull). They are very popular figures representing a skeleton of an upper class woman. It tells each and every single one of us that were are all equal in front of death.

A documentary about Day of the Dead, in Spanish:

Moan’Phisémy

Learn more about Day of the Dead

More about Day of the Dead

Learn more about La Catrina

Día de los muertos, article in Spanish


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