Do not get me started! I didn’t move 9 time zones away from the west coast of the US to deal with this nonsense. No, No, No. <deep breath> OK. I’ll start at the beginning.
Whether you get on sailing ship to discover unknown worlds, or you get on a spaceship and move to Mars you expect things will be different. Completely different. As a matter of fact, you count on it. If it was the same as where you came from you’d just stay there.
Ever since we moved to Valencia – and travel throughout Spain – we meet locals, and when they find out we moved here from the US they always look confused.
‘Why would you want to do that?’ they ask. ‘It’s my dream to live in the US. New York. I always wanted to go there.’
I don’t go into all the reasons why, but generally answer ‘We love living here and we’re never moving back.’ And you know why? Cause it’s not the same as living in the US.
We’ve generally adjusted to the cultural differences. The food times can still throw us. When Jeff craves lunch at 11:30 am, and we can’t find a full meal in a restaurant at that time, he just says ‘Lets go home and have Ameribrunch.’
The holidays are different, of course. There is no 4th of July. Here’s it’s the Nueve de Octubre – the Day King James the first defeated the Moors from the Torres de Serrano. And it doesn’t last one day but is a 4 day celebration with, you guessed it, fireworks! Lots of fireworks!
Last year, I was so excited that every holiday seemed to be celebrated individually. One holiday didn’t get a jump start on the back of another. And Halloween was pretty small. More of a prelude to All Saints Day on November 1st. Holidays were celebrated at the right pace and the right time. What a difference a year makes.
We were at El Corte Ingles (the largest Department store chain in Spain) at their largest location at Colon last week. And then at the one in Nuevo Centro. It’s not even Halloween and the Christmas decorations were going up. They’re putting up the Christmas tent with the Christmas wonderland! Noooo!
And then today we went to Centro Commercial at Arena and the stores have both Halloween decor and Christmas trees covered in ornaments. The furniture stores have holiday table settings.
The final straw for me was heading to the SuperCor two blocks from our apartment. SuperCor is a little more upscale grocery run by El Corte Ingles so the products are more gourmet and some international specialty items are readily available – like honey baked ham. But walking in, I was appalled at the spectacle. Tables and tables of Christmas candies and Pantatoni bread. There are displays of advent calendars and ornaments. What the actual HELL?!
Now I know there isn’t a Thanksgiving holiday in November here. That used to be the demarcation line between Halloween and the kick off of the Christmas season in the US. Here that would be artificial. But Three Kings on January 6th is the big Christmas holiday here (the 12th day of Christmas), not Santa coming down the chimney on December 24th. So that’s even further out.
The display of the Starbucks pods on the end cap of one aisle nearly sent me over the edge. Spanish coffee kicks Starbucks’ ass. I pray the folks here don’t fall for that $5 big corporate coffee nonsense from our hometown. It’s like Americanism is bleeding into the cultural fabric of Valencian life and I want to scream ‘It’s a slippery slope, people! Don’t go there!’
These people don’t know how bad it can be when you can buy your Christmas tree along side your kid’s new school supplies in August. Or when the term Christmas in July takes on real meaning when Christmas stores start to pop up that promote the holiday 365 days a year.
We marched through SuperCor and I lamented out loud at how the world was going to hell in a hand basket with Christmas in October. Yes, I sounded like an 80 year old grandma. Jeff nodded and followed me through the store as I got all the things on my list. When we got to the counter he suggested I go pay while he loaded the items on the belt and then bagged them. Hmm. How considerate.
Then we got home and I was unloading the bags. What did I find? Panatoni bread had made it into our cart. I held up this sacrilegious premature holiday contraband.
‘What is this? Seriously?! Panatoni bread? We don’t eat that in October. It’s Christmas bread, for God’s sake.’
Jeff looked a little sheepish. ‘But I like Panatoni bread. It’s just one.’
Except it wasn’t just the Panatoni bread. There was fudge too. Our kitchen is small. He couldn’t hide it. So now I know how all this erosion of the Spanish standards of discreet holiday celebrating started. Jeff moved to the country last year and ate Panatoni bread before Halloween. Spain, are you listening to me? This is how it starts! And it’s a slippery slope.