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Canary Islands - Swap the Turkey for a Canary

25th July 2012 • Posted in Where2 Magazine

The Canary Islands celebrate the festive season in style with fireworks, feasting, grapes and if you’ve been naughty, coal... Fancy a change from the usual this Christmas? Then why not swap the turkey for a Canary? The festive season in the Canary Islands definitely offers a very different take on this special time of year.

In common with many European countries, families celebrate with a meal on Christmas Eve as opposed to the 25th. Christmas day is seen more as a day of recovering from the celebrations...and getting ready for those yet to come. Although there are still many traditional festivities going on amongst the islands’ numerous ex-pat communities.

Canary Christmas image

It’s New Year when the celebrations really start to get going. The streets are thronging with people in party mood, all intent on celebrating the New Year in true Canarian style. 

This begins with the eating of twelve grapes with each chime of the clock. Each grape represents a month in the coming year - successfully eat them all and you’ll enjoy health, wealth and happiness in the year ahead. As the last chime rings out, the Cava flows and the sky erupts with fireworks. Every town or village will have its own display, with a regular competition in South Tenerife between Los Cristianos and Las Americas.

Just when you thought celebrations might be coming to an end, in true Canarian style, things keep going. January 6th is a very big event in the calendar. According to the bible, this is when the Three Kings reached Bethlehem bearing gifts - and this traditionally is the day children on the islands receive theirs. The story goes that the kings pay a visit to each home and leave the children gifts. Unless that is they’ve been especially naughty when a lump of coal gets left behind instead!

The previous evening everyone gathers on the streets to see the kings’ parade, which often sees them riding on camels. Things can go on for several hours and culminate in a live nativity performance, with the kings handing out sweets to the watching children. 

Now that certainly beats over-cooked sprouts and falling asleep in front of the Queen’s speech!

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