So first I'm just going to backtrack to Thansgiving and tell you about how we made these DELICIOUS Oreo/cream cheese ball things to feel less despressed about missing Thankgiving food at home..
Ok onward. Going to tell some stories about class activities..
Last week, my class went to the kitchen and we got to make salmorejo and mojopicón, a "spicy" (for Spanish standards) sauce/dip that's typical in the Canary Islands. Our teacher is originally from the Canary Islands, so she knew how to make it and all and it was SO freaking delicious. You can eat it more as a sauce and put it on boiled potatoes, or mix it into cheese (same texture as cream cheese) and make a dip. The dip was my fave. So good. The salmorejo was also yum.
Irene (student teacher) with our hard work on display.
We also had a day about Christmas traditions last week and so (obviously) got to try the traditional foods. First I'll talk a little about the traditional days (although I don't remember all of it.. Spanish Christmas has a lot more official days of celebration than we do). So there's Christmas Eve, which is called Nochebuena, when families get together for big dinners and there's a special mass called "Misa del Gallo" which sounds pretty similar to the special church services I've heard of at home: lots of singing and candle holding and what not. So that's cool. And then there's Christmas day, which sounds like it kind of depends on the family. Some families eat the leftovers from the Nochebuena dinner, some have another big meal, some do a more westernized gift-giving and Santa Claus day. Then there's New Year's Eve, which is Nochevieja, which is normal day and then fiesta fiesta at night. Everyone gathers in plazas and there's a ball that drops (like in the US), except it drops before the clock strikes 12. It's like the signal that the clock is ABOUT to strike 12. So then at 12, at each chime of the bell, everyone eats a grape. This doesn't sound that hard but it's SO hard not to laugh while you're stuffing your face. We practiced this in class HA.
So the little baggies of grapes were what we practiced with (12 each!!). And then you drink the champagne after (specifically Freixenet). And then the other stuff in the picture is montecados, which are Spanish Christmas sweets, and on the right is anís, traditional Spanish Christmas liquor. Yay for school, am I right? And then the last day of Christmas celebrations is January 6, which I think I've talked about a little bit before. This is the traditional day of gift giving and is called el Día de los Reyes (King's Day, to celebrate the three kings that brought gifts to Jesus). However, because school vacations end on January 6th or very soon after, a lot of families have adopted the westernized version of gift-giving on the 25th so that kids get a chance to play with their new toys before school starts back up.
Also this week in school... (This was an atypically active week, I promise I'm not always having this much fun)(I sort of am though) We got to walk around the center and go see the Belenes, which are actually nativity scenes. Fun fact: Belén is the Spanish word for Bethlehem, so that's why it's called that. These nativity scenes are one of the big traditions in Spanish culture: There are multiple that are put up around the city (of which I have pictures), and it's also very typical for households to have their own nativity scenes, sometimes in place of a tree. The nativity scenes are different from the ones we have at home though. They're smaller but way more detailed, with various different scenes happening and what not.
The three kings headed toward the babe.
And the babe himself.
There was also this WONDERFUL town made entirely out of chocolate that was also featured at the same place at the Belén. Excitement.
Gives the phrase "dream home" a whole new meaning.
My kingdom awaits.
And here's the little Belén that's in our house. I think they can be a lot bigger but this is the simpler version I guess.
OK on to other topics.
They lit up the city on Thursday and it's SO beautiful. Like really, hats off to the people who decorated Sevilla because wow it's breathtaking. Still working on how to get good pictures of Christmas lights with my camera, but here's what I have for now.
Ok this wasn't taken with my camera but you can kind of see how many people were out that night.. It was crazy and a little claustrophobic but also cool.
Navidad is here.
Triana, you beautiful barrio.
Gettin' in the holiday spirit.
And then last night there was music coming from the street and Elvira was so puzzled because it was Semana Santa music and I ran outside and (srry quality is TERRIBLE.. Good old iTouch couldn't handle the pressure) found this.
The thing on the left is the float thing that they carry in the procession during Semana Santa, and then you can see everyone is all dressed up in suits in the band. Elvira said she thought it might be a training session, but that it was really strange that they would be training with the band and all because usually training is just for the guys underneath that carry the float.
Yesterday, we got in the Xmas spirit at home, too.
YAY for Christmas.
Other fun things this week: Kris came to visit soo yay. We went to Plaza de España (among other places) and had a really fun time. Always good to see faces from home.
Kris making friends with the most random people he could possibly find..??
So much love
Kewl silhouette pic
And today we went to the park and knitted, because what better things could be done on a beautifully chilly Monday afternoon.
Never been more proud of these newfound knitters.
And they are ever so proud as well.
Sunset on the walk home
And some snacks for our troubles
Kind of a lot of snacks actually
And it was really quite good
Now to add to the lists a little..
Things that are different:
- Consumer's unions: Do we have these and I'm just so oblivious? Elvira explained to me that if you buy something and you think you got ripped off or something, you can go to a consumer's union (which you have to be a member of) and file a complaint and they'll help you get your money back or whatever you're trying to get.
- There are separate channels for the main news channel: one in regular Spanish and one in sign language.
- Christmas food is a lot more storebought stuff: mantecados are storebought candies and pastries that are really delicious but unlike anything I've ever had in the States. There are specific things that are more often made at home, but everyone always gets these candies and eats them every day during the Christmas season.
- Spaniards get their turkey fix in at Christmas since they don't have Thanksgiving.
- Christmas meals: people plan dinners, or lunches, or meriendas (mid-afternoon snack) with their different groups of friends as a Christmas celebration. Seems like kind of a logistical nightmare; Lucía is planning about 10 different ones and it seems like it's a challenge to get everyone at the same place at the same time.
- I went to a Sevilla soccer game with Irene (my intercambio) on Wednesday, which first of all was SO COOL, and second of all was so different from sports games in the US in a lot of ways. For one, the national anthem is not played before sports games. Instead, they play the song of the team (which we don't even have in the States, as far as I know). Another thing that really caught my attentions was that people bring food and drinks into the game without a problem; no one checks bags or anything like that, so people just pull out their bocadillos (sandwiches) around dinnertime and have soccer game picnics.
- Names are pronounced differently in Spanish, which you don't really think about until you cannot, for the life of you, understand what someone is talking about when they tell you they like Mariah Carey. Mariah Carey? It's pronounced Mar-ee-ah Cah-ray (emphasis on the ray). And Harry Potter is also a tough one. This translates into every foreigner's life when they come here: I always introduce myself as "Elisa" (El-ee-sa), Emily becomes "Em-ee-lee", etc. There is even a girl in my class who is from Korea and has an "English" name-- Evelyn-- because her Korean name is too difficult for anyone to pronounce.
Things I miss:
- Skiing. CAN'T WAIT.
- The tree lighting in my hometown! The lighting of the decorations here is unofficial and not as ceremonious and celebretory as the lighting of the town Christmas tree at home.
Ok that pretty much wraps it up. Just going to close with a pic of what I think might be the funniest/best Christmas decoration ever.
So that's that. Happy Holidays everyone :))