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The Horror of Attending Expat Christmas Fayres

By Mr Grumpy - Fri 3rd Dec 2010

To say that I didn’t really enjoy Christmas would be an understatement – or at least I didn’t before I became a parent. Back in the days before we relocated to Spain and spawned our offspring I would tut whenever the Mrs dragged our decaying cardboard box of moth-eaten decorations out of the loft, and regarded getting a Christmas card alongside receiving hate mail.

Suffice to say, in the UK, I used to feel completely ‘Christmas-ed out’ by around the end of the first week in December, and by Christmas day I was almost suicidal. At least when we didn’t have any kids we could ignore it (or at least as much as we could without some inane shop worker wishing you a ‘merry Christmas’ whilst wearing a Santa Hat in the middle of November).

But now that I’m in Spain I find it quite startling that the reverse is actually the case. On the whole, Christmas is just another day and any efforts that are made with regards to festivities are mainly for the benefit of the expat population. For example, our local Bar has put up a bedraggled and withered Christmas tree of sorts, and the Fiesta / Sweet shop has an inflatable Santa outside. Granted, there are a few other decorations around, but this is largely to mark the Fiesta of the Three Kings, which is something completely different.

We attended a ‘Christmas Fayre’ this last weekend (Note the ‘Olde English’ Spelling – for some reason trying to conjure up the image of a Dickensian, snow-dusted Christmas seemed inappropriate whilst eating a Mince pie and mulled wine at the same time as smearing sun block on my nose),which I was press-ganged into attending.

I duly paid the 3 euro per person ransom on the gate and drifted around the dozen or so stalls, each selling nothing remotely related to Christmas at an over-inflated price.

One thing that did strike me was the fact that all the posters and advertising promoting the event were in English (nothing like ignoring the majority of the Spanish speaking population when you are trying to promote an event that doesn’t require understanding of any particular language), however, there was nonetheless a surprising amount of representatives from the natives.

It seemed oddly surreal to me, and must have done to them also: A couple of hundred seasoned expats wandering around the gardens of a Spanish Manor House to the sounds of Christmas Carols in the mid-day sun, nursing a mulled wine like a victim of hypothermia and spending a fortune on tat that had no connection with Christmas whatsoever.

Exactly what I needed to get me in the Christmas spirit! (# Sarcasm alert for the benefit of those incapable of reading between the lines #)

And it probably won’t get much better, between now and the ‘big day’. I usually walk over to the local bar in our village every Christmas day (usual opening hours) to find it full of Expats getting drunk on a Tuesday (or whatever) morning, because it’s part of the pre-Christmas Dinner tradition. There will be a few complementary tapas on the Bar, but this is a small gesture compared to the amount of tips and drinks bought back for the staff that will more than likely arise. The majority of people will be sat outside in the sun, ignoring text messages and calls on their mobile from the UK (I know I will.)

So that’s pretty much my Christmas in Spain – and do you know, I can’t say that i’m bothered.

Now, the Fiesta of the Three Kings on January the 6th – that’s a different matter altogether!

Comment on this Blog

Lol ! : only a woman would disagree with any of this !
Expatinator - Sat, 8th Dec 2012
Indeed. Like cushions, Candles and Pot Pouri, Christmas would cease to exisit in a world without women.
Mr Grumpy - Sat, 4th Dec 2010
Tut tut Mr Wells! Me and the kids are off sledging this afternoon, before returning home to a roaring fire, hot drinks, and a good film. After that we'll probably put the Christmas tree up and laugh at Daniel as he gets himself inexplicably wrapped in tinsel and lights. The kids can write their letters to Santa - then a hot bath, story and bed. Yuletide bliss sir! I forgot to mention that I'll be spending half my monthly earnings on pointless tat that nobody wants or is interested in, stepping over it and kicking it out of the way for the next 12 months, before relocating it all to the nearest skip. Happy days!
Jason Hartley - Sat, 4th Dec 2010

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