I already mentioned how going to the Circus is a tradition here at Christmas time.
Yes, they have Santa Claus here. Lucia knows him by the name Santa Claus, but probably only because of American movie influence as well as being a student at an English school. Normally, the people call that bearded dude with a red suit “Papa Noel.”
But their tradition for presents is a little different. In general, people open presents on three kings/wise men day, which is January 6th. That´s when people open their presents, and I believe there is also a tradition of leaving your shoes out overnight and the wise men leave treats in them.
But most people also open presents also on Christmas day. But they usually are the non-anticipated, smaller gifts.
Let me explain. In my host family, the kids write letters to the reyes magos, or wise men. Cristina already bought special wise men stationery from the store, and the kids already wrote them. They will give the wise men (at the mall, like our Santa) the letters in person later this week.
The three wise men are the ones who give them the BIG presents. Not physically large, but the ones the kids really really want. Like a Red Rider BB gun.
Santa brings presents, too, but they are things the kids didn´t ask for or expect. And each kid only gets one gift each. This year, Lucia is going to get a Mickey Mouse suitcase and Lucas is going to get a set of action figures from some cartoon.
In my host family´s house, the presents from Santa arrive in a big sack on Christmas morning. The presents from the three wise men arrive on Jan 6, under the Christmas tree.
Oh, and on Jan 6, the adults get presents too, whereas Christmas day only the kids open gifts.
And on Jan 6, every gift is from the wise men. My host family goes to Cristina´s sister´s house, and there, guess what! The three kings dropped off presents for Lucas and Lucia (in other words, those are the gifts that Monica and Jose Enrique are giving Cristina´s family). And later in the day when they go over to Cristina´s mom´s house...Look! The three wise men left some gifts there, too.
But just as in the US, we´ve seen plenty of Santa Clauses in and around the malls, where the kids take pictures. And when I say “the kids take pictures,” I mean that Lucia happily hops on Santa´s lap while Lucas either cries or sports a look that could murder you as he reluctantly goes near Santa.
Now with the whole “every gift is from Santa or the Wise Men” ordeal, I asked my host mom how I am supposed to present the gifts I plan on bringing back from my trip to the states. She told me I should tell the kids that Santa left them at my house for Lucia, Lucas, Cristina and Pixon. And I am just bringing them here to Spain (because Santa got the address wrong?)
Oh, and those gifts that I´ve been buying for my family (as Lucas and Lucia were with me) for the past couple weeks? Those are just presents. For my family. Unrelated to Christmas. Because, you know, Santa brings all the presents on Christmas. Not a 23 year old girl. These are...souvenirs.
A couple days ago I came across this awesome website where you can make a video from Santa. You can personalize it and send it to friends (or to yourself for your kids to see). So you can have Santa say “Melissa, you´ve been a good girl this year because I see that you have tried to make new friends even though it´s been a little hard” or whatever you want.
And strangely enough, the very next day, Cristina was like “Come look at this Santa video I made for Lucia!” Yes, of course, there is some other website that does pretty much the same thing in Spanish. So she made two, one for Lucas and one for Lucia, and told me that she´d show Lucia hers first, but then show Lucas his when Lucia was around. Because she´s smart enough to see it and be like “Hey, this is scripted, and Santa said almost the exact same stuff to me minus Lucas’ name!” So Lucia watched the video and was very happy as Santa asked Lucia how she was doing and that he´s been watching her and sees that she´s been a good girl. But he did say that she needs to listen more to Mom and Dad, but she´s been practicing her English a lot and he´s proud of her. Then of course Lucas was like “Where´s my video?” and Cristina was smart enough to say “Well, Santa just sent me this one today so yours must be on it´s way. I´ll show it to you once he emails it to me!” Oh, that tech-savvy Santa.
So the next night Lucas saw his while Lucia was upstairs taking a bath. And Lucas was none the wiser, just amazed at the fact that Santa said his, yes LUCAS’ name out loud. Then later they used the video as ammo when Lucas was jumping on the couch and Cristina was like “But don´t you remember what Santa said? He said to listen to Mommy and Daddy or else he won´t bring your presents.” But Lucas being Lucas didn´t listen and just continued hopping around with his shoes on.
And one more thing:
Cristina really wants an iPad for xmas and it’s pretty much the only thing she’s asked for. She knows she won’t get it because Pixon has told her a hundred times that it’s too expensive. And she makes it known to everyone that she really wants it, even to the kids. But she tells the kids that the wise men won’t bring her an iPad because it’s too much.
And one day Lucia told Cristina, “Quick mom, while daddy isn’t home, wish really really really hard and tell the wise men you want an iPad. Quick! Before daddy gets home and hears you, tell them!”