|Windmills in Campo de Criptana near Alcázar de San Juan|
This festival, which commemorates the arrival of the Magi/Wise Men to Jesus shortly after his infancy, is celebrated 12 days after Christmas (i.e., January 6) and involves parades, gift-giving, and food. Every Spanish town will probably have a huge parade through its center of groups representing all the local organizations, with people dressed up in costumes throwing confetti and candy everywhere. Spaced between the marching bands and revelers, floats go by carrying men dressed up as one of the three Magi.
Epiphany is also a day kids get really excited for; instead of Santa bringing them presents on Christmas Eve, the Reyes Magos (“Magi”) bring kids gifts—they even have the same do-you-believe-in-Santa drama that older elementary kids go through, but with the Wise Men instead. It’s kind of awkward since the holiday falls at the end of Christmas vacation (less time to play with toys!) but at the same time is a great bookend to the holiday season and a good excuse to spend time with family and eat lots of Spanish food. It’s traditional to share a roscón de reyes (kings’ cake)—a sweet, bread-like cake filled with cream and candies and, most importantly, a figurine of the baby Jesus. Whoever gets the slice of cake with the baby has to buy the cake for next year’s Epiphany.
Renewing the programA few days after school started back up again, Spain opened up the application website for the North American Language and Culture Assistant program that I’m in this year, a website which allows interested people back home apply for the first time and current language assistants renew for another year. However, they turned on the website at midnight…Spain time…and the server soon slowed to a crawl (and ended up crashing over the weekend). None of us current assistants knew what we were doing, but at least we had Facebook to bounce ideas off each other’s heads. Thankfully, renewing language assistants get priority in regional placements, so there wasn’t too much pressure. After waiting on unresponsive servers, I finally got in at 1:30am with number 43 (much better compared with #1429 last year). I haven’t completed my application just yet, but the hardest part is done. I asked to be placed in a high school in Galicia, the northwest corner of the country.
|View of Toledo|
Field trip to an olive factory
February doesn’t have much in store apart from Carnaval (Mardi Gras) and a weekend trip to Barcelona to see Icelandic band Sigur Rós in concert. I’ll try to post more regularly this month, I promise!