Buenos días y bienvenidos a todos to the final update from Salamanca of 2012. It’s Iain here, and I’ve been out braving the cold weather to bring you some updates of the preparations that Salamanca has been making for the festive season.
Last night, I met up with my classmate Carlos for a tour of Salamanca en Navidad (“Salamanca at Christmas”). We started on Gran Vía with una ración de castañas (“a portion of roasted chestnuts”) from a street vendor, the likes of which have been popping up all over the city and tempting passers-by with their delicious scent. I can confirm that as temperatures dip below zero on some nights, they are a brilliant antidote to the biting cold.
The Christmas lights have only been shining down on the Rúa Mayor for a few days now, and I explained to Carlos that the celebrations of Christmas in Salamanca seem to start much later than back home in Scotland. According to Carlos, this is because Spain place a greater importance on el día de los Reyes (“the day of the Kings”), which falls on the 6th of January, rather than Christmas Day as is typical in Scotland. This day celebrates the return of los Reyes Magos (“the three Wise Men”) from their visit of Jesus.
Carlos told me that he was looking forward to the roscón de Reyes (“King’s day cake”) which his mother traditionally makes. This sweet treat has two surprises baked into it; one is a miniature king, and the other is typically a bean. If you find the king in your portion, you are given una corona como un Rey Mago (“a crown like one of the Wise Men”); if you bite down on the bean, you’re less fortunate and traditionally must pay the host for the roscón.
As we walked through the Plaza Mayor, Carlos asked me:
“¿A dónde vas a tomar las uvas?”
I was initially puzzled, as this translates literally as “where are you going to take the grapes?”. However, it transpires that Carlos was asking where I was going to celebrate the arrival of the New Year; traditionally in Spain, a grape is consumed with each ring of the 12 bells at midnight to celebrate the arrival of the new year. With a brief chat about plans for la nochevieja (“New Year’s Eve”), we parted.
It’s back to the books for me, as I have several exams prior to the holidays. It’s absolutely incredible to think that I’ve been here for four months, however Salamanca still manages to surprise – it’s an amazing place to learn Spanish.
¡Hasta el año nuevo!