After spending ten days in the madness that is Benidorm, it was good to move inland and back to normality. Crevillent is a medium-sized town around 25 km from Alicante, with a population of 28,000. It has a moorish-style old town with lots of narrow lanes and alleyways making it very easy to get lost (which we’ve done a couple of times!) . There’s seems to be quite a sizeable Arabic community here, so there’s a a good mix of shops and restaurants.
There are two campsites in the locality. The first is outside the main town and is a self-contained resort with some 1,200 pitches, but we decided to steer clear of that. Instead, we’re staying at Las Palmeras just on the edge of town, ten minutes walk from the centre. It’s a hotel with a bar and restaurant, and there are chalets and motorhome parking and facilities to the rear – great value at €17/night (ACSI rate). It’s much smaller than the other site, and there’s only one other British van here at the moment, the others being mostly German, Dutch and French, though there are a couple of vans from Denmark and Sweden too. The hotel restaurant offers a menú del día which changes daily – just €12 for three courses and a glass of wine. We’ve been there once so far, but we’ll definitely be going back for more.
On Christmas Eve we walked around the site with some chocolates wishing our fellow campers a Feliz Navidad, and the lady in the Danish van was so touched that she invited us over for drinks, so we spent the evening outside their van with a Swedish couple and a guy from Germany, which was good fun.
We originally booked to stay here just for the week over Christmas, but we’ve decided to extend this until 7th January so that we can be here for New Year and Los Reyes.
Father Christmas doesn’t deliver presents to the children in Spain on 25th December, so whilst they observe Christmas Day, it isn’t the big event that it is in the UK. Christmas Eve, or Nochebuena is a big deal in Spain though, and it is typically celebrated with a big family dinner of seafood or lamb.
With Santa, Rudolph and co. not stopping in Spain, the children’s presents are instead delivered by the Three Kings – Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar (aka the Three Wise Men) – on 6th January, known as el Día de los Reyes. The children in Spain have to write a letter to the Kings telling them how good they’ve been all year, and letting them know which presents they would like. The letter can be given to the Kings in person on 5th January, or to ‘royal postmen’ found in the centre of Spanish towns a few days before. Early in the evening on 5th January, parades are held in towns across Spain – including Crevillent – where the Three Kings ride in a procession through the main streets or square. After all the excitement the children go to bed early in anticipation, leaving out bread and water for the Kings’ camels. Whilst they are asleep, the Kings will leave presents for the good children, or carbón (lumps of coal) for those children who have been naughty. During the year, Spanish parents threaten their kids “they’ll bring you coal” when they’re misbehaving.
Being a Catholic country, festive nativity scenes are quite popular. In this part of Spain there’s a tradition to include a character known as a caganer (the literal translation is shitter!) who is usually tucked away in the background, crouching down and having a dump. There’s a big nativity scene outside the main church here, and we did indeed spot the caganer!
Just like many other places across the world, people in Spain hold parties on New Year’s Eve – Nochevieja – to see in the new year. There is a ’12 grapes’ tradition at midnight, where one grape is eaten after each of the midnight chimes, symbolising good luck for each of the 12 months ahead.
Whilst supermarket shopping, we’ve noticed that the Spanish seem to love turrón at this time of year. It’s a nougat containing almonds or hazelnuts and is of Moorish origin, said to have been invented in nearby Jijona over 500 years ago.
As mentioned in the last post the Spanish are lotto mad, and last weekend was the annual El Gordo (the fat one). Tickets cost €200 each, though most people buy a décimo, which is a tenth of a ticket for €20. The prize fund is a whopping €2.4 billion, with a €4 million jackpot. The draw is a big event screened live on TV, and every year the winning numbers are sung by school children. There are so many prizes that the draw goes on into the early hours, so we just watched the highlights on the news the next day, with the winning ticket belonging to a group of people in Bilbao.
One other Spanish tradition this time of year is el Día de los Santos Inocentes (day of the Holy Innocents) which is their equivalent of April Fools Day, observed in the same way by playing practical jokes and looking out for spoof stories in the newspapers.
From Spanish traditions to a German (and Scandinavian) one, and that’s the broadcast on TV of a short (18 minute) English slapstick comedy film called Dinner For One starring Freddie Frinton. It’s been shown on German TV every year since 1972, and apparently holds the Guinness World Record for the most annually repeated show. Despite its popularity in Germany – and also Denmark and Sweden – it’s virtually unheard of in the UK. We’d certainly not seen it before, so we watched it on Christmas Day and it’s a funny (if not daft) film, definitely worth a watch.