As the semester is ending and finals season is (very much) upon us, I have really enjoyed seeing Madrid and my homestay get all dressed up for Christmas. Walking on the Gran Vía or through Plaza Mayor or Sol was beautiful before, but now it’s even more festive. There are also Christmas and artisanal markets popping up all over Madrid which are fun to walk through. The one in Plaza Mayor is particularly beautiful. I wanted to get my parents a Hanukkah gift there, but I was only able to find ceramic Jesuses and nativity scenes, so I am in the process of finding my Hanukkah gifts elsewhere.
Especially as someone who grew up in a Jewish household, it is very exciting living in an apartment with a Christmas tree. It was so fun decorating my first Christmas tree with my host mom and watching my host sisters squabble over who was going to put the star on the top of the tree while they listened to “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey (I guess she’s popular in Spain too!) and some other songs in Spanish I didn’t quite understand.
I have been learning about how Spanish holidays are celebrated—in Spain, people traditionally don’t give gifts on December 25th like in the United States, they give them on Día de Reyes or Día de los Reyes Magos, which is January 6th. I am also fascinated by the Spanish tradition of eating twelve grapes when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. It is considered to be good luck for the year ahead if you can eat one grape for each chime of the clock in Puerta del Sol. This tradition started in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s as kind of a genius marketing strategy by some grape farmers and has become widely adopted as part of popular culture in Spain.
On a less exciting note, this semester for finals I am working on three essays and one video project and studying for two exams. In my Advanced Spanish Language class, we have a final exam on grammar and bit of geography and to make a video talking about basically whatever we wanted to show our “oral production” of Spanish. My partner Jackson and I filmed our video on December 6th, which is el Día de la Constitución, so we decided to talk about the formation of the constitution and interview people about their opinions on the constitution and local politics for the fortieth anniversary of the Spanish constitution. In my En boca de mujer and Literaturas transatlánticas classes, we were given pretty open prompts for our final essay, so I am writing one essay on the Instagram poetry and feminism of Rupi Kaur and one about the role of women and migrants in the short story “El verano feliz de la señora Forbes” by Gabriel García Márquez, which I love. For my class at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, I have one group essay about the movie También la lluvia, and essay about the new political left in Latin America in the late 90’s and 2000’s and a final exam.
Happy Holidays, thanks for reading, and buena suerte on your finals!