Spanish Thanksgiving

Spain does not celebrate thanksgiving at all nor do many people know what it is or why it’s celebrated. Therefore it became my personal responsibility to teach Torrijos all about Thanksgiving.

It started small scale last year and this year we went all out. Last year I bought a can of pumpkin from the special American store in Madrid to make pumpkin pie for the teachers at school. They loved it!! This year I prepped by packing a can of pumpkin in my suitcase when I left for Spain in September. We started planning early November to gather a group of teachers and friends for a thanksgiving feast.

Pumpkin pie: check
Green bean casserole: check
Mashed potatoes: check
Jamon and Spanish omelette: double check
Turkey: hmmm

The turkey was a point of concern since Spain isn’t too big on turkey. It’s more traditional for Christmas dinner. One friend told me that her uncle gave her a turkey and they grew it on their family farm until it was ready to dinner! HAHA I really didn’t want a live turkey and I was completely comfortable settling for another main meat but one brave teacher stepped up to the plate. (Pun not intended). She got a whole turkey, stuffed it, and roasted that little guy in the oven for 4 hours. FYI we didn’t have to kill any turkeys in the process.

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Since it was their first thanksgiving, I had to rewind a bit to my early elementary school days where we dressed up as Indians and pilgrims. I divided the group into Indians and pilgrims and gave them appropriate headwear. It was the perfect photo!

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There’s a reason I normally eat turkey for thanksgiving around 3:00pm because then I can take a nice nap. Eating turkey at 10:00pm basically put all of us in a food coma. We cured ourselves with a few cocktails and headed out to a bar in Torrijos to end the night. Successful first thanksgiving!

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Nights like these really remind me how lucky I am to have such wonderful people around me near and far. Maybe this is how the pilgrims also felt at the first thanksgiving?!

La Sementera

Another year, another fería. Check out this cute promotional video-all filming is done in my town.

It’s a celebration in the whole town from Wednesday through Sunday. The Sementera is an old festival tradition in Torrijos. Today, people come from neighboring towns to enjoy afternoon beers and late night concerts. Families bring their kids to the fairgrounds to ride the attractions and eat some salchi-papas. In the old days, I like to think that people traveled on their horses to Torrijos to visit friends and family and similar to today, share a beer. I also think they had other motives like buying supplies for their farms or more livestock. Now the only things you can buy are pitardos (firecrackers), cheap toys, and counterfeit Nike shoes and fake Prada purses.

Wednesday is the first day of the celebration and it starts with the coronation of the town queen. PSA: She’s 15 and in one of my English classes. It’s a pretty big honor to get crowned or to be one of the accompanying ladies. My friends said they would nominate me for 2017 Torrijos Town Queen. The campaign starts now.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday all have a pretty similar agenda. Sleep in, because there is no school! 1:30pm Meet up with friends in the main plaza for afternoon beers. €1 bottles!!! Then grab a sandwich for lunch from one of the tents set up around the square. Enjoy the afternoon listening to some music, catching up with friends, and of course–drinking beer. The brave stay in the square all day and all night. Some (cough, cough, me) go back to their apartments around 7:00pm, take a quick nap, maybe a shower to refresh, and head back out! Grab another sandwich for dinner and switch to coctails. Mojitos are the big thing in Spain. I prefer a classic, vodka-lemonade. You can take the girl out of college, but you can’t take the college-age-appropriate drinks out of the girl. There’s a concert in the main square for the adult crowd. In the fairground area, there is a giant party for the adolescents. I didn’t dare step foot over there because on Monday my kids would have never let me live it down.

And yes, you must be thinking that publically drinking all day in the town square might give your students a bad idea. I thought the same thing last year until a student bought a round of teachers some drinks. The key for Spanish drinking is patience. We aren’t pounding shots at the bar and a few beers a day just might keep the doctor away. That’s the saying, right?!

Special shoutout to my friends this weekend (JF&S) who always made sure my stomach was full and I always had a cold drink to cool off with. They are some of the nicest people I’ve met here and I am so thankful for these wonderful friends.

Feria de Abril

So Spain should write a book on festivals.  Or maybe that’s what I’ll do this summer with some free time 😉

Feria de Abril is one of the biggest festivals in Sevilla and other parts of Spain try to compete.  It’s even so popular that snapchat had a sponsored story to share photos! It normally takes place two weeks after Semana Santa (Holy Week). {yes this post is a bit delayed} Well I spent that weekend in Huecas, a small Pueblo–nowhere near the size of the one in Sevilla but we all have to start somewhere.  It’s a big block party with all your neighbors, friends, and family.  There are dancers that put on a traditional Flamenco show and lots of food and drinks.  Is there ever a shortage of food or alcohol at a Spanish party?! No..the answer is no.

Here are some necessary things for Feria:

Vestido de Flamenco.  From the opinions of my mother and sister, it’s a very cultural and southern Andalusian thing that’s not for everyone.  But for me…YES! I decided this was going to be my souvenir from Spain and now it’s mine.  I bought mine in Jaen, Andalucia when we visited Ana’s daughter.  These vary in prices and patterns.  They can cost anywhere up to €1000 if you get one custom made.  The polka dots are very traditional and some dresses are even made with patterned fabric.  I wanted something that was simple and not too flashy but still traditional.  I imagine what I felt when I tried it on is what brides feel like when they find their wedding dress.  It fit like a glove and my smile stretched from ear to ear.  The dress might need its own plane ticket for the ride home.

Flower in hair.  Book your hair appointment in advance to make sure that you look the part.  More traditional is to have it at the top of your head but I thought I looked too much like a plant, so I convinced Sebastian (the hair dresser) to put it towards the bottom of my head.  More vine-like, less flower-like.  I’m not Cindy Loo Who from the Grinch.

 

Horses.  Yeah Huecas is very small..very small but some men from a neighboring town brought their horses for kids to ride and for me to pose for photos.  Priorities.

This was one of my favorite weekends because it was the start of spring.  Also dressing up, dancing, and drinking.  What else could I need?

Corpus Christi

Toledo is a very historic city in Spain, it’s also the best place to be to celebrate Corpus Christi.  This festival takes place in late May/early June and is another celebration of Christ.  More specifically without Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny-just Jesus.  The historic center of Toledo is where all the action happens.  Decorations go up months in advance and concerts, parades, and other things happen the week before and the week after.  So basically a month long celebration.  (typical Spain).

I clearly had 3 days off school so I spent the holiday at Mia’s apartment to see all the action.

We went to her old host family’s house to watch the procession because they lived on the path and we could watch it from above.  AKA the best seats in the house.  It’s not as intense as the processions for Easter but the main attraction is the golden alter piece.  It’s recently been restored and this was the grand reveal.  After a huge lunch, we headed out to look at the Patios Toledanos.  This is a demonstration throughout the historic town of the gorgeous apartment patios.  There is a competition to win the most beautiful patio.  The entrances were decorated with flowers and in some there were even some musicians to greet the guests.

We finished the weekend by heading up to the rock.  It’s a giant rock where you get the best view of Toledo.  We brought some picnic snacks and just enjoyed a beautiful day in a beautiful country.

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