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With our best wishes for a Lovely Christmas Eve, a Very Merry Christmas time, a wonderful holiday period, & All The Best for 2017!

 

 

 

Christmas is a truly magical time in Spain, which Spaniards typically celebrate with family and friends.

 

In Spain, Christmas lights usually go up in November, and every city and town will decorate the streets with millions of lights, nativity scenes, Christmas trees and Christmas decoration, creating a very festive atmosphere.

 

The majority of families gather on Christmas Eve to have the first big Christmas meal, the Christmas Eve dinner, together. There is not one single traditional Spanish Christmas dinner dish, but the food that is eaten is abundant and delicious, including famous dessert treats such as turrones* and polvorones** in many different varieties.

 

The second big gathering is Christmas Day, where families typically gather for lunch, which is another abundant and delicious meal. This day, some families exchange a number of presents, although the actual Spanish gift exchange tradition takes place on January 6, at Epiphany, a date which is called Los (Tres) Reyes Magos (The (Three) Magic Kings, also known as The Three Kings in English). The names of the Three Kings are Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar. Epiphany Eve (January 5th) is the day where the Cabalgata de Reyes, the Kings' Parade takes place. In it, the Three Kings traverse a part of the different cities or towns on camels or floats greeting children and often carefully throwing sweets at them. Epiphany Eve is normally also a very special night for children, in which they go to sleep with the excitement of the next morning, and often leave some food and drink for the Three Kings, and even some water for their camels. Epiphany is the last big day of Spanish Christmas festivities where families gather for big meals, normally at lunch time.

 

Turning back to December, on the 28th is the 'Día de los Santos Inocentes' or 'Day of the Innocent Saints' is the day when the babies that were killed on the orders of King Herod when he was trying to kill baby Jesus are remembered. On a less religious and more festive note, this day is also similar to April Fools Day in the UK and USA. People often – not always and not everyone, something to be taken into account – try to trick each other into believing silly stories and jokes. This tradition is also present in newspapers, and TV & radio stations, who on this day typically exaggerate or tell some silly stories. Whoever manages to trick someone typically calls this person 'Inocente, inocente', which means 'innocent, innocent'.

 

And talking about the end of the year, New Year's Eve is called Nochevieja (The Old Night) in Spain. A special tradition is to eat 12 grapes with the 12 strokes of the clock at midnight that announce the beginning of the New Year. With each grape representing a month of the coming year, eating the twelve grapes is believed to bring good luck for the year just about to start. People who don't manage to eat the grapes – it is not easy and happens to many – normally substitute these with champagne, cava or cider.

 

* Turrón is a traditional Spanish Christmas sweet that is made from almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and/or pine nuts, mixed with honey or sugar, and/or other ingredients, and comes in a variety of delicious flavors.
 

** Polvorón is a savory sweet Christmas treat prepared with flour, butter and powdered sugar, among many other possible ingredients – there are many delicious variations around this sweet, such as with nuts, with cocoa powder and with lemon flavour, just to mention a few.

 


For those who are not native Spanish speakers, at times their mother tongue can play some funny, curious or serious mind tricks on them. The mix of English and Spanish, is well known as Spanglish and for many who speak both or sometimes even more languages, mixing them up is inevitable. We’re are able to say the most funny and even awkward things, that only those who have a full understanding of both languages will get and it can also get us in trouble, because of an idiomatic phenomenon called “false friends”.

If you are hearing it for the first time, a false friend is a word that sounds similar or has the same root in both languages but that, for some reason, does not mean at all the same; seriously, by any means.

For example, we can take the word embarrassment, which is something we feel when we are ashamed for any reason. On the other side, we have the word embarazo in Spanish, which means pregnant. Just imagine the chaos that could take place if a girl learning English said to her Spanish-speaking mother that she is embarrassed; the first thing that would came to the mother’s mind would probably be related to the Spanish meaning, when what the girl is actually trying to say is that she feels avergonzada (embarrassed).
 

And the list goes on with many other words, like the ones we are going to present you as follows.
 

– Casualidad (SP) = coincidence

– Casualty (EN) = victim

– Chocar (SP) = crushing, colliding

– Choke (EN) = being unable to breath

– Ropa (SP) = clothing

– Rope (EN) = thick cord

– Suceso (SP) = event

– Success (EN) = achieving something
 

Most definitely, knowing the right word can save us many troubles and explanations, right?
 


Spain is composed of the most beautiful cities and villages. In this post we present 15 of Spain's most beautiful cities.

The main city of the Autonomous Community Cantabria, Santander, is one of the principal tourist destinations, driven by Spain's high society already since the 20th century. A wonderful fish and seafood gastronomical destination with gorgeous landscapes and surroundings.

Another beautiful city of Spain is Granada, home to the Nasrid palace, the Alhambra, considered as one of the 15 wonders of the world. But also beyond the Alhambra this destination, considered by many as magical, is worth a visit, one of the reasons being its magnificent architecture, found throughout the city. In addition, the town is very close to Sierra Nevada, the favourite ski slope for students from all over the world.

Also Cáceres, located in Extremadura, deserves a special mention. Its Old City was declared a World Heritage site in 1986, and it possesses one of the world's most important Middle Age and Renaissance urban complexes. It is also Spain's largest municipality.

Barcelona is Catalonia's capital, and a true cultural, commercial, financial and tourist icon of Spain. Barcelona is also one of Europe's most cosmopolitan cities, and considered as one of Spain's top cities by many.

Andalusia's main city, Seville, offers the possibility of enjoying the view of places like the Giralda, the Cathedral and the Gold Tower (Torre del Oro). Similarly to Granada, the entire city contains much to admire and enjoy.

Another very beautiful city of Andalusia's Community is Córdoba, situated on the shore of the river Guadalquivir. Some of its most interesting attractions are gorgeous constructions from the caliphal era. Córdoba is known for its world-famous Mezquita and its magnificent flower-filled patios. Also its old town, the Casco Viejo, is very appreciated when visited.

If you do not want to miss out any of Spain's most beautiful cities, we recommend you to pay a visit to Santiago de Compostela, situated in Galicia. Its Cathedral contains the sepulchre of Apostle Santiago, reason for which it is one of the main centres of religious tourism. The city was also declared a World Heritage in 1985.

Spain's capital, Madrid, is another beautiful city that proposes an excellent cultural offer, with excellent performances and museums such as the Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen and Museo Reina Sofía. Among many other worthwhile places to be discovered, the city contains Spain's km 0 at its Gateway of the Sun (Puerta del Sol).

Salamanca is not only a lovely city, but also one of Spain's oldest and Europe's most important university cities. Definitely one that you don't want to miss out.

Moving on to our next selection, a beautiful city of artists such as Garcilaso de la Vega or El Greco was established on the shore of the river Tajo: Toledo, which is likewise known as the City of the Three Cultures, as it has for centuries been inhabited by people from Jewish, Christian and Muslim cultures in close and peaceful cohabitation.

San Sebastián or Donostia, is known internationally by its Film Festival and its gentrified style, both of which attract hundreds of tourists year after year.

Changing Autonomous Community, and situation ourselves in the one of Aragon, we find Zaragoza, destination of numerous tourists in relation to its famous fiesta of the Virgen del Pilar.

Next, we present Teruel, capital of Aragon, and home to a very important Mudejar artistic patrimony, among which the Mausoleo de los Amantes de Teruel stands out.

Coming to an end in our list of most beautiful cities, and situating ourselves in the Community of Castile and Leon, we highlight Burgos with its Gothic Cathedral of Santa María and part of the Camino de Santiago, which turns it into one of Spain's most beautiful cities.

Finally, in the same Community of Castile and Leon we find Segovia. Another gorgeous city home to its famous Aqueduct, which is Spain's most relevant work of civil engineering associated to the Roman Era. Segovia's old town was declared World Heritage site in 1985. Segovia is also known for its traditional cuisine, with its roasted piglet being one of its most famous dishes.
 


There are a number of words in Spanish that can represent a challenge in terms of pronunciation – from a small one to a real one – to pronounce if your mother tongue is another one. And no, we are not referring to true tongue twisters like the Spanish term for DNA, ADN or 'ácido desoxirribonucleico', or the Spanish term from Mary Poppin's famous song 'supercalifragilisticoespialidoso'. We are also talking about shorter words that are nonetheless not easy to pronounce and that can give some Spanish students a bit of a hard time. In this post we present 10 of these challenging words to pronounce. Continue reading to find out more…
 

* Pero/perro: The difficulty lies in pronouncing a single ‘r’ or the double one, which is important to make it clear what we are talking about. Whereas the first word means 'but', the second one means 'dog' – a totally different meaning that we need to make clear through a clear pronunciation

Ascensorista: this word meaning lift attendant possesses the followed up 's', 'c' and 'e' that in themselves can give even some natives a bit of a hard time. If the additional 'r' is considered, the entire word will normally have to be practised a number (and a number being sometimes not precisely a small amount…) of times before mastering its pronunciation.

* Esternocleidomastoideo: Not that sternocleidomastoid in English is easy to pronounce, but to say it in Spanish can be most definitely be an even greater challenge for many. By the way, this word refers to a muscle of the neck.

* Amuñuñar: this informal word for pressing affectionately or shrinking the body contains not one, but two 'ñ' followed by a final 'r' that will with great probability lead to numerous repetitions before being able to correctly pronounce it.

* Otorrinolaringología: otorhinolaryngology in English, this Spanish word with a double 'r', multiple syllables and a second 'g' that is pronounce differently to the first one and to English pronunciation, represents a challenge that some would prefer to avoid.


Now that you have read them, are you up for the challenge?
 

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