This year I spent my second Christmas away from home. I don’t think it will ever get much easier to be away from my family during the Christmas holidays, but at least the traditions here are becoming more familiar and I have my boyfriend here to keep my spirits up.
December 24th, AKA Christmas Eve is the 1st of 3 important holidays that take place during winter break (Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and the Three Wise Men). Families celebrate Christmas Eve by having a giant feast at home with lots of family, and the next morning “Papa Noel” brings a couple of small gifts (depending on the family). But I’ve the 24th is the more important of the two days.
Anyway, as you may recall, last year I spent Christmas Eve in Madrid with a friend of mine and her family before I took off of Istanbul! This year I stayed in Arcos and spent it with… dun dun dun… my boyfriend’s family! It was the first time I met most of them (except his mom) and although it was slightly overwhelming to meet approximately 20 family members who think I’m a strange foreign creature, I think I maybe won them over with my delicious apple pie (which was served in SQUARES, not my doing) and my delightful smile.
Our Christmas Eve feast included giant prawns, ham, cheese, different types of meats, potatoes, bread, fried cuttle fish and more. Then for dessert there was a concoction called pijama (literally, pajamas) Which was served on a big tray, and I helped make it! It involves emptying about 20-25 flan-in-a-cups (like jell-o but dairy/egg based) onto the tray. Then, you spread canned fruit like pineapple and peach slices over the little mounds. On top of that, an entire can of whipped cream must be used to cover and disguise the fruit/flan combination, and last but not least, artfully place chocolates around and on all parts of the tray. Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph this creation or our feast because I was trying to stand out less (not possible) and really wanted to avoid having to explain that the photos were for my blog when I’m nearly sure that the eldest of the attendees doesn’t know what the internet is.
Anyway, after dinner we did Secret Santa (Amigo Invisible). I was informed of this the DAY BEFORE and nearly panicked until I was informed that I had to get a gift for my boyfriend and luckily I had already framed a picture of us to leave him with while I went traveling. I got a really pretty bracelet and a box of chocolates so that was nice. Between the delicious abundance of food, the sweet gifts and the puppies that were running around begging me to play with them, it was a good night.
After dinner, we headed to a party at a house out in the country side. I think its pretty customary here for everyone to party with friends after their family gatherings on Christmas Eve. Luckily it wasn’t too cold because the party we went to was on the back patio, which luckily had a roof as it was drizzling all night. We stayed up until about 8:30am and headed back into Arcos where I spent my entire Christmas day sleeping.
Two days later I headed off on my journey to Krakow, Vienna and Budapest. Check back soon for posts on these wonderful and beautiful cities!