One of the most significant phrases a person can utter is "I love you."

In Spain, there are two ways to express your love.

After discussing with many a Spaniard the meaning of these phrases, I am still confused.

This is my own opinion on the matter:

"Te quiero" literally translates to "I want you." This is a kind of love you can have for your boyfriend, your chihuahua, or your favorite tapa. For me, it is a less serious, friendly, beginning of a relationship love.

"Te amo" is the more oficial, old-fashioned, in love with you, never let you go type of love. 
Picture
Spanish countryside, te quiero.
Picture
Chocolate con churros, te quiero.
Picture
Beautiful architecture, te quiero.
Picture
Authentic Spanish Vino, te quiero.
Picture
La Cuidad Dorada, te quiero.
With February and El dia de San Valentin coming up soon, I am filled with love!

Love for life, love for adventure, and love for speaking a language that gives me two different ways to express that love!

¡Te quiero, España! Or is it te amo?
 
 
On New Year's Eve in Spain, there is no ball drop. And no big midnight kiss.

Instead, the clock in the Puerta del Sol of Madrid chimes for the last 12 seconds of the old year. With each chime, you must eat one grape.

Both a Spanish tradition and superstition, it is said that if you finish all of your grapes, you will have 12 months of good luck for the new year. 

Good luck never comes easily though.
Picture
Be careful...they have seeds!
I was nervous about primarily, finishing the grapes. Secondly, I was envisioning myself choking on the seeds inside, not being able to ring in the new year at all. Also, being surrounded by friends and their family members, I didn't want to look like an unattractive grape-hog. 

I will admit, I struggled with a few of the grapes. And a few others, I concentrated on a bit more. The 2nd grape: February. My applications for next year are due. The 4th grape: April. My brother's wedding. The 11th grape: November. My 25th birthday. All symbolizing a year that is yet to come. 

Overall, I had no problem, and finished them like a true campeón

There are other Spanish traditions related to the doce uvas. Standing on your right foot while eating them will help you begin the new year in the 'right' way. And dropping your ring in your glass of champagne for the first toast of the new year is said to bring luck as well.

Another tradition says that wearing red (red underwear especially) on New Year's Eve in Spain brings good luck. But, they have to be gifted to you by somebody else.

What are some traditions or superstitions you have for New Year's Eve?
 
 
The Valladolid city lights have been lit.

Spanish homes may not have elaborate Christmas lights strung on every inch of their roof, but that doesn't mean the city doesn't know how to get into the Christmas spirit!
Picture
El arbol en la Plaza
Picture
Walking up Calle Santiago
Picture
Lights hanging above you as you walk down city streets
Picture
Plaza Zorilla
Picture
All around the Plaza
Picture
City Hall
Even with the power of the cold, how could you not feel all warm and fuzzy inside at Christmas time?
 
 
This year for Thanksgiving I couldn't make it home to the states. So, I brought Thanksgiving to Spain in more ways than one.
Thanksgiving in the classroom
My students all brought a tear to my eye as we discussed one by one what we were thankful for. Even more than that, they made me laugh with their Thanksgiving questions and astonished faces when I told them about some of our traditions in the US. 

Some of the things my Spanish students were astonished with:
-It is the only day a year that a siesta is not frowned upon.
-We have to eat turkey. ("But why not chicken? It's basically the same...")
-Why anyone would want to cook something in a trash can. (For those who don't know...trash can turkey is becoming the new thing.)
-Black Friday. (¿Por que? Only for sales?)

Thanksgiving at home
I was lucky enough to be sitting at the table with my family while they teased me with delicious food, ahem... I mean... ate their dinner. The live Skype feed on the laptop let me be passed around the room, catch up with relatives from out of town, and at one point sit on the couch to watch a bit of the parade on TV. 
Thanksgiving in my piso
With about 20 Americans living in Valladolid, we got to share in a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner together. No, we didn't have turkey. But, I swear the chicken tasted the SAME!! (Oh my, I'm becoming Spaniard.) We had wonderful company and a fantastic meal together, giving thanks for our opportunities in Spain.

Black Friday from afar
In my family, we do black friday and we do it hard. Things my mom says: Why pay full price when you don't have to? This year I got to search the ads online, and have my family pick up the deals I needed. (8G memory card for 8 bucks!) The time difference worked out perfectly, and I was right there in the action waiting in line at Best Buy on Skype. I also made my most expensive purchase yet, a ticket home for Christmas!
 
 
I have always loved Halloween. My favorite costume when I was a little girl was Cleopatra, and I still remember getting to wear the black eyeliner for the first time. I loved bobbing for apples, walking around the neighborhood with friends, and oh yeah, I guess I liked getting free candy, too.

For the Halloween puente (literal translation: bridge, but it's the name for a break from school here in Spain) I headed to another country, Portugal to be exact. More on that later. But Halloween was still going on here in Spain. 

Halloween is said to have started in Ireland. But I have always thought of it as an All-American holiday. Celebrating outside of the traditions I know made me a bit nervous.
Picture
A bakery decorated for Halloween with lots of treats.
But in recent years, the Spanish have caught on to how much fun we Americans are having around this time of year, and Halloween has hit Spain with a BOO!

Here it is a holiday for children, unless you are in a big city where there will be plenty of nightlife and costume parties at local bars. The children dress up in costumes and trick-or-treat a.k.a. Truco Trato around the small neighborhoods and apartment buildings. Teenagers (as my students informed me) throw eggs at houses that don't give them candy. ¿Que educada, verdad? 

The grand event of the weekend and the true holiday behind the puente is El Día de Todos los Santos, All Saint's Day. Families visit their deceased loved ones and place exquisite flower arrangements on their graves for this special day of rememberance. 

Forget pumpkin pie, the typical foods here during this holiday are Huesos de los Santos and Buñuelos. Deserts that you can find in any local Pastelaria. 
Picture
Huesos de los Santos, Saint's Bones. I wasn't a huge fan of the marzipan texture with chocolate coating, but they are very popular with the Spanish!
All over the world, Halloween is celebrated differently. In Portugal, there were no decorations in the streets, no special foods, and few shops that sold costumes. Maybe next year I will find out how it is celebrated in another country!

In my home in Florida on Halloween, we had a steady stream of trick-or-treaters this year. Creating a new tradition with my family from across the ocean, I Skyped live as the door bell was being rung in my house. My mom held my floating-head-of-a-computer-screen in her hands as she handed the kids their candy, and we all laughed so hard. Somehow each time it got funnier.

With the new customs I've learned about, new foods I've tasted, and new traditions I've made with family...I have to say, I still love Halloween!