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Spanish language and costums

SPANISH LANGUAGE AND CUSTOMS

Dates and seasons

30.10.09 -

Christmas goods arrive on the shelves in the shops earlier and earlier every year, but this year they seem to have made a giant leap forward into the middle of October, or even earlier. The beginning of November is traditionally the time for shops to sell “saints’ bones” and other sweets associated with All Saints Day and All Souls Day (November 1st and 2nd respectively), and for chestnut vendors to set up their stoves on street corners. The chestnuts made an early appearance this year too - or perhaps it is just that one expects them to arrive with the colder weather, and the colder weather is very late in arriving this year.

With Christmas coming so far forward, it even pre-dated the setting back of the clocks (another date that seemed earlier than usual this year), so that there was “turrón” in the supermarkets and plastic Father Christmases in the “Everything for a euro” shops while the evenings were still light and people were spending their days on the beach. Aisle upon aisle of toys even took up the space in Carrefour this week where swimming pool equipment ought to be, and tree decorations moved in alongside the pumpkin candles and ghost outfits put out for Hallowe’en.

It’s all to do with the economy, of course. Nobody was going shopping. The clothes shops have been doing particularly badly, with the extended summer adding to the general lack of money and meaning that nobody was buying the “just in” autumn and winter fashions, either because they weren’t in need of warm clothing or because they were waiting for the sales, or just recycling last year’s jumpers.

The solution, it would seem, is for the shops to put out cheap Christmas items and hope that customers will go in for a bauble and come out with a new wardrobe. Consumer associations have been quick to bring forward their usual seasonal advice, too. “Only buy what you really need” and “avoid getting into more debt than you can afford” says the Consumers in Action group while the “Unión de Consumidores” describes buying early for Christmas as “absurd”. Shops will have to bring their prices down, says the Union’s President.

Dates and seasons
Cada año llegan antes las navidades Christmas comes round sooner every year
Ha llegado antes que el invierno It's arrived before winter
Las castañas también se han adelantado Chestnuts have come forward too
A los jóvenes les gusta mucho el Hallowe'en Young people really like Hallowe'en
Es más tradicional la fiesta de Todos los Santos "All Saints" is a more traditional fiesta
Se ponen flores en los cementerios People put flowers in the cemeteries
Se comen huesos de santo They eat "saints' bones"
Todavía parece que estamos en verano It still feels like summer


Liz Parry's Spanish Phrase Book is available from http://santanabooks.com/node/52

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