Giving and taking
Giving and receiving presents is a global way of expressing sympathy for family and friends. While most of the Western world exchanges presents for Christmas and for birthdays, Spain has some additional days that are used as an excuse to buy your friends or family a treat.
Reyes Magos, celebrated on 6 January of each year, is one such occasions. This catholic event commemorates the arrival of the Three Kings at Jesus` stable. According to popular history, the three men all represent different parts of the world: they have different skin colours and are aged 20,40 and 60. In present times, the Kings arrive in each Spanish city on the evening of January 5th. The subsequent processions draw crowds of children out of their houses. Merce (31) remembers how her parents encouraged her to hand her wish list to one of the three kings during the procession. If she had been nice throughout the year and fell asleep before the kings arrived at their house, she would find presents under the sofa the next morning. She then had an entire day off school to play with the presents, mostly toys.
`Money doesn`t make a good present`
More Catholic celebrations
The Three Kings face competition from another benefactor, who has come across the Atlantic to change the traditionally more conventional Christmas celebrations. While the Reyes Magos only really bring presents to the kids, Santa Claus is an excuse that allows grown-ups to exchange gifts. They will do so during Christmas Eve and it is common for everybody to buy all the others present, usually family only, at least one present. According to Andrian (25, photo), clothes, earrings, jewelry and games are popular gifts. Money is not ? money only works as a present from parents or grandparents to children but Christmas is not the most likely occasion for that. Weddings are, as new couples may welcome money to finance their honeymoon or buy new furniture.
Liane (27) tells about San Jordi, the Catalan and Catholic version of what the capitalist world knows as Valentine`s Day. It is celebrated on 23 April and coincides with Catalan Culture day. Separatist symbols like the Catalan flag appear on balconies and even local pastries. Boys give girls a red rose, while girls buy boys a book.
Another reason to get presents is for kids to get baptised, take their First Communion and celebrate Confirmation. These stages towards catholic adulthood are usually celebrated with modest presents. Name days used to be celebrated on a big scale as well, but only older people still really do. It is not uncommon for children to know the Name` s Day rather than the birthday of their grandparents. If celebrated, the party only involves your partner or close relatives.
Birthdays are a usual excuse for people to buy each other presents. Eduardo (28) thinks a nice gift to or from his girlfriend would be a small holiday together. His brother would make him happy with a watch. Most people will buy birthday presents in the same way as Christmas presents, but potentially with a more personal touch to it. Helena thinks of calendars for Christmas, and would find hand-made artworks, household stuff, perfumes or music suitable birthday presents. She will usually spend up to 30 euros on a present for her best friends. `But when it`s good friends, the present is more important that what it costs`. Elisabeth (24) likes to give her good friends small presents throughout the year, just as a sign of friendship and attention.
Presents are also brought along with official dinner invitations. If chocolate or wine is involved, it is likely to be presented during or after with a meal. Flowers are welcome as well, but each flower expresses another emotion and they should be carefully selected to match the occasion.
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