Carnaval de Laza

Last year I celebrated Carnaval in Cádiz, Andalusia, Spain with my two best friends.  This year, I kept the festivities local.

Carnaval in Santiago isn’t really a big deal, so on Monday, my friends and I squished ourselves into a car and made the two hour and forty five minute journey to Laza, Ourense. I was not told where we were going and to bring ‘ropa que se pueda manchar’ (clothes you can get dirty).

La Farrapada

‘La Farrapada’ is a giant mud war that takes place in the Praza da Picota. Rags are thrown across the plaza with the intent of hitting and dirtying the other opponents. Upon our arrival, I was immediately grabbed by a man dressed in military gear and I knew what it meant. I was going to be thrown in the bathtub of mud. I was warned by the boys that it is better to go with them rather than to resist, so I willingly went (after I removed my valuables from my pockets). Luckily, the man only made me put my feet in the water. However, on the way back, I was pegged in the face with the rags more times than I can count!

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Praza da Picota – La Farrapada in action
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Tricked and thrown in the bathtub of mud for the SECOND time.

Baixada da Morena de Cimadevila acompañada das Formigas, Toxos e Cobelleiros

After lunch, we made our way up the hill to see the musicians play and get some dancing in before the red ant and flour fight. Toxo is a plant typical here in Galicia. It is a pretty yellow plant, with needles. During the Carnaval of Laza, they hit people with the toxo (ouch).
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A little before the fight, Alexis and I heard bells and went to watch the peliqueiros. They run the streets swinging a whip (and sometimes hit people with it if you cross their path). Their costumes are absolutely stunning.

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Los Peliqueiros

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The flour and ant fight starts at twilight – when the sun sets but there is just enough light to see. At the end of the day, we were all absolutely filthy – but it was such a blast!

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Post flour and ant war.

Bo Nadal: My First Galician Christmas

Felices fiestas! Last week I had the opportunity of celebrating Christmas with my Galician family. As much as I love living in Spain, I have come to realize that being away from family during the holidays, birthdays/big celebrations, etc. will never get easier. To combat the homesickness, I took the advice of my dear friend, Lindsay and baked up a storm all the while listening to Christmas playlists on Spotify. As cheesy as it may seem, it was literally the best way to handle the homesickness.

Christmas in Spain

Christmas here isn’t as popular as it is in the United States.  Spaniards typically celebrate Los Reyes Magos which falls on January 6th.  Before going to bed, children leave their shoes out for the Reyes, and wake up to find gifts left behind.

During the holidays, La Loteria de Navidad is HUGE. I didn’t participate in it, however, Fernando did. I was extremely amused watching Fer as they called out the winning numbers on TV. To his disappointment, we did not win el gordo.

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Christmas in Santiago

The weeks prior to Christmas, I admired the beautiful decorations and lights set around the city.

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On Christmas, we made our way over to Fernando’s aunt house for an amazing Christmas dinner.  Although I missed my typical Mexican tamales, rice, and beans with my family, I absolutely loved all the marisco (necoras, percebes and mejillones) and Albariño!

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Wedding Bells – My First Galician Wedding

 

Family photo - with Fernando's parents.
Family photo – with Fernando’s parents.

Last weekend I attended my first Spanish wedding (Fernando’s uncle). The wedding took place in Budiño, just a short drive from Lavacolla.

When I first returned to Santiago, Fernando and I stopped by his grandparents house (in Lavacolla). His aunt Belen asked if I would be attending the wedding. I hesitated, saying I didn’t have anything to wear, but Belen told me she would be more than happy to accompany me to find a dress. So that was settled. I would be attending my very first Galician wedding in just a matter of weeks.

On the Hunt

Like promised, Belen and Lucía (the bride to be) accompanied me to search for a dress and shoes.  We met in la zona vieja (the old town of Santiago) and set out to search for the perfect dress. They led me to a small, but charming shop.  I feared it would be difficult to find a dress that fit properly, but to my surprise found a dress that fit perfectly within 10 minutes.

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While shopping, Belen and Lucía asked me what American weddings were like. I told them that I felt as though I were shopping for a prom dress rather than a dress for a wedding. The fact that I wanted a long dress more than likely contributed to this feeling – but as I am rather tall, I felt more comfortable with a long dress as opposed to a short dress.

The Wedding

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Selfie before going to the wedding!

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The day of the wedding, Fernando’s parents picked us up around noon and we made our way to Lavacolla where we had appetizers at his grandparents’ house. At 1 we set out for Budiño. When we arrived, Lucía and Oscar were already at the church, ready to walk in. Once the ceremony was over, the guests went outside to wait for the newlyweds. We threw rice and confetti, and then everyone took photos with the bride and groom.  After all the photos had been taken, we made our way to La Magdalena for dinner.  We waited about an hour for the bride and groom to arrive, as they took a horse-drawn carriage instead of a car.

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Dinner was absolutely amazing. There was a ton of seafood – pulpo, crab, fish, and vieira’s (scallops), as well as ternera and cordero. I’m sure I ate enough to last me the rest of the month.  All throughout dinner guests shouted, “Que se besan, que se besan!” to get the bride and groom to kiss. There was also a lot of “Vivan los novios!!” and everyone else shouts “VIVA!” Dancing immediately followed dinner – and we danced until our feet ached.