I have grown up with the North American Christmas craze. Every store beacons you to gaze upon it's glorious gifts. Going into a store can be dangerous because it ends up being 'one gift for you, one gift for me'. Decorations for every religion are piled onto everything as the Hallowe'en decorations are being taken down. Holiday tunes blare from everywhere putting you in the spirit or making you miserable depending on the day.
This year though I'm in a small city in Spain where the decorations aren't glittering with the same gusto. There are very pretty lights in most of the main streets. There is a giant tree outside city hall made of poinsettias and a big white and blue tree in another square. The stores have hardly any signs or lights or decorations but outside most store doors are pots of poinsettias.
Here children write letters to Papa Noel who begins the holidays AND the Three Wise Men who mean it's back to school time. I know Santa has Elves to help him with all his mail but I haven't found out who is secretary to the Wise.
The public television here has no advertisements, so no holiday cheer there. Then the channels that do have ads are predominately for perfume (which make me blush), ham legs (which make me cringe) and lottery (which leaves me confused). Where is their sense of over dramatized commercialism to show your love?
The lottery is what people turn to when they're old enough to know that Santa isn't going to be giving them a gift. People here say "Happy Christmas, Prosperous New Year" in the regular tone then very animatedly say "but good luck on the lottery!" and have a five minute conversation about their numbers and where they'll be. Tickets cost 20-23Euros depending where you buy them and people wait in line for up to four hours (in Madrid, Port de Sol) for their tickets, so says the Spanish news.
In other news, I'm at the only internet cafe in Almuñecar where I asked for a coffee with chocolate and they brought me this...
It's not a Spanish morning if there aren't a few heaps of sugar.
... needless to say it was a delicious-warm-coffee-chocolate-delight