¡Feliz Navidad! While Christmas is a bit sad without our families we enjoy experiencing the holiday in a foreign country. Retailers have been capitalizing on the holiday for a couple months now so in that aspect we feel right at home. While they have the normal Christmas decorations, Santa, reindeer, snowmen, lights, and trees, the major focus is a Christian one. There are many special masses held and most every home has a nativity, some being very large and ornate.
The Christ child is the most important part of the nativity, as He should be. He is often much larger than the other members of the nativity scene and always ornately dressed. In fact, since Christmas items have been up for sale in Cuenca I have seen many a shop or stand selling wooden cribs or ornately decorated clothing for the Baby Jesus.
The events leading up to Christmas culminate in a parade, El Pase de Niño Viajero, on Christmas Eve. The main attraction of the parade is an 1823 sculpture of the Christ child. The sculpture was taken to Rome in 1961 to be blessed by the Pope and since it’s journey there has been an annual Christmas Eve parade. The parade includes Mary, Joseph, the three wise men, angels, as well as Santa (or Papa Noel as the jolly elf is known here) and his elves. The parade is an all-day affair with people coming from all over the country to watch and participate. People come dressed in their finest and the children play a major role, dressed as angels or in extravagant indigenous clothing. It really is a spectacular site and I’m so glad we went. The temperatures rose to about 80 with a very intense sun so we only lasted for about an hour before taking a scenic stroll back home, complete with a stop at the cathedral and then for ice cream to cool off.
Miss E is off from school for two weeks. She had a Christmas program at her school last Friday. It is apparently very traditional here to have Christmas programs at the schools where the children learn songs and dances and perform. Parents were asked not to stay since the teacher felt we may be a distraction to the children but our friend, Rich, filmed the production. Miss E has been singing her own version of Campana Sobre Campana. I love hearing her sweet little off key voice making up words to the song.
My father came to visit for about a week. His luggage didn’t quite make it with him but a couple days later we went to the Cuenca airport to pick it up. Thankfully it did arrive as it contained Christmas gifts for the girls and birthday stuff for Miss P’s party next month! We enjoyed my dad’s brief stay. We tried a Spanish restaurant (El Mesón Español) Cory and I have passed several times, stopping to drool over the menu and reminisce about our trip to Barcelona. The food and drink were phenomenal. We enjoyed a jarra of sangria and a rich and creamy potato and chorizo soup as well as a very large paella. I was so inspired by our visit that I went to Pinterest to find sangria recipes. I have tried twice to make it in the past and it always tasted like red wine to me, not the sweet, refreshing drink I fell in love with in Barcelona. I found a guide for making sangria and came up with this recipe that has since changed my mind about homemade sangria. Daniel, the owner of El Mesón Español, explained the basics of sangria to us: a little vino tinto, Fanta, whatever fruit you like and un poco magico (a little magic). Well, I think I discovered the magic!
1 bottle (or box) red wine (you can also make this with white wine or champagne or even sparkling cider)
1/2 cup of juice (I used orange, but pomegranate, grape, or blackberry juice would be delicious too)
1/4-1/2 cup Triple Sec and 1/4-1/2 cup rum (omit if making a spiritless version, but you may want to increase the juice added if that’s the case
1-2 cups fruit (apples, strawberries, oranges, lemons, limes, berries,etc. I’d stick with fruits that aren’t too soft since they may dissolve)
1/2 cup sweetener (sugar, honey, stevia, agave)
1/2 to 2 cups of lemon lime soda
Mix all the ingredients except the soda in a pitcher and allow it to set overnight. Add chilled soda just before you are ready to serve. Pour into glasses with ice. Be careful, these can be super dangerous!
Well, the cookies have been left for Santa and he has come to drop off gifts for the girls. I’m not sure how well we will all sleep as it seems tonight will be a night of singing and fireworks. Miss E is super excited about tomorrow and I must say, Christmas is even more fun now that we have children!
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!