About the religious situation in Spain, I did a research from different sources to have different perspectives. The research from Galicia’s Company called ¨Obradoiro de Socioloxia¨ in 2008, shows the following situation of religion in Spain: 29.2% are practitioners Catholics, 51.3% are non-practitioners but they are Catholics, 8.9% are not believers, 7,6% are atheists, and 2.1% are believers from other religions. The Sociological Research Center (2014) says that 70,2% of the population are Catholics. It doesn’t specify if they are practitioners or not, but it provides us this interesting information: 61% of the population never go to the church or any other religious practice, 13.9% go sometimes in a year, 12.1% go almost every Sunday, and 1,9% frequent religious places several times in a week.
Although Catholicism is the predominant religion, since the Francoism dictatorship until now, has taken place a process of secularization. In consequence, the religious practices have decreased, as well as the assistance of religious rites (Baptisms, Communions, and Catholic marriages) and the percentage of Spanish who considered themselves as Catholics. Regarding young people, the figures and data have changed in comparison with the values of the adults. 48,4% between 18 and 24 years are Catholics, 47.1% don’t think about these issues, they don’t consider themselves as believers or atheist. Basically, they don’t care.
As we know, Christmas and religion are working together. Christmas is the representation of the Catholicism. But, why? Most of you will know the reason, it is the celebration of Jesus Crist birth. However, Bible doesn’t name the exact date of Jesus birthday. We saw previously how Spanish population are losing their religious values, mostly young people. Then, Christmas is no longer to be a religious representation. People keep this tradition since long time ago, it doesn’t matter if you are a believer or not. The traditional values highlight the value of the family, sharing time together through many events during these Christmas days. The sense of Christmas has changed, it has another meaning in our current time.
Christmas starts officially on 24th of December, Christmas Eve day. Although we see how families decorate their homes in the beginning of December. Most of them have two important traditions: The Nativity scene and the Christmas Tree. Apart from other decoration ornaments as lights, candles, flowers, tablecloths, etc. That night, families have dinner together (sons, daughters, cousins, grandparents, aunt, uncle, brothers, sisters…), any kind of food that you are imagining it would be part of the table. Aperitives are always important to start the ceremony: Spanish jam, cheeses, montaditos, sausages, smoked salmon, seafood, … The main dish is usually meat like sirloin, pork or entrecote. Sweet desserts are obligated, even if you think you are going to explode. Turron, Marzipan, Polvorones (shortbread made of almonds, flour, and sugar), and churros with chocolate for the ¨Resopón¨, time to eat when it is dawning (or when you get hungry again at night).
Next day, 25th of December is the Christmas day. The second big Christmas meal starts at 2 pm or 2.30pm. Many people have lunch at home with the whole family, others go to a restaurant. Anyway, people eat during more than 3 hours, non-stop. Your stomach didn’t assimilate yet the last dinner, but it doesn’t matter, you must eat everything on the table, with dessert included. It is wrong if you think it is the end, it is not over. 26th of December is famous because of the leftovers. Even if people just want to eat vegetables and fruits, you can’t throw these leftovers.
What is the next step? Right, New year. From 26th to 31th there are several days in advance. Many people want to moderate themselves after all the excess. However, it is not easy, Christmas sweets are everywhere, always on the table. Meetings to have dinner with workmates and friend are very usual during these days. Then, nobody can scape of it. The celebration of the happy new year is the biggest party of the year. Everyone, it doesn’t matter the age, organize a party. It is very usual meeting all friends in a house, prepare dinner, waiting for 12 o´clock to eat grapes and get crazy, sing, shout and hug each other. After, drinks are the protagonist of the night. During these days people make a balance of their lives. They want to change what they didn’t like in the past to improve themselves. You will hear many people saying: ¨I’m going to eat healthy for the next year¨ or ¨I’m going to study as much as possible to get my degree¨ or ¨I’m going to enjoy my life as it deserves¨.
But Christmas is not still over. We have another tradition called ¨The Three kings¨, they are who are bringing presents to Jesus in the Nativity Scene. Then, they always bring gifts to the children the night of 6th December. That night family usually leave some cookies and milk for the kings, because they make a long way from far away. Next day, 7th of December, kids wake up running to the Christmas tree where they find the presents. The same day, families have lunch together. It cannot miss the ¨Roscón de Reyes¨, it is a circle shape cake with a hole in the middle, as a donut. If you get a bean in your piece of cake it means you must pay for the next year ¨Roscón¨. If you get the statue’s king you get a gold paper crown for you.
We can say officially that Christmas is over. People need to hold the line next day. It will be a challenge almost for everyone, getting ready for the next Christmas.