Puerta de Sol Saturday 12 December 2009
The streets are packed with festivities. Families are descending on the capital city to admire the lights, the many trees and belenes and to shop for their own fun items and of course, Christmas presents. It is amusing to see whole families dressed in reindeer hats or a spiralling santa hats and fun coloured wigs. The tiny children are taken to Cortylandia at the famous Corte Ingles department store and stare wide eyed at the colourful characters above them as they sit on their parents shoulders amongst the inevitable bobbing balloon characters. This is a Madrid institution apparently and the lyrics to the Cortylandia song are much loved. Whenever I ask my students about it, they smile nostalgically and all warn me away from visiting it if I don't like children!
I have become fascinated by belenes - the model reproductions of the nativity scene which take on many forms. Some of the biggest are the size of whole towns. There are tiny shop window ones and lifesize street ones and everything in between. You can spend a small fortune on creating your own belen and I am shocked at the cost of some of the items - we are talking hundreds of euros!