¡Feliz Navidad! Christmas is around the corner – actually for a lot Spanish speaking countries it started straight after Halloween. But you still have time to get your Spanish ready! Here are the Spanish expressions you'll need to survive the festive season.
¡Es hora de armar el arbolito! - It’s time to put up the tree!
First, it’s cleaning time! Woohoo! I know, but try to tell your Hispanic mom, you won’t help with the cleaning and putting up the Christmas tree (at least that’s fun). But, really… there’s nowhere to hide. Also, Catholicism has a big influence in Latin America and Spain, in a lot of household you cannot forget about el pesebre or the nativity. Both, el arbolito and el pesebre are a piece of art and part of family time. So, nope… you cannot play with the sheep.
¿Ya compraste el estreno? – Got your brand new outfit ready?
So you’ve already cleaned and put up the decorations. Now, what are you going to wear on Christmas Eve? This is a very important part in Hispanic cultures.
Your Spanish native friend or family will ask you: ¿Ya compraste el estreno? [have you bought your brand new outfit yet?]. 'Estrenar' means to wear or use something for the first time and 'el estreno is the outfit you wear (for the first time) on Christmas Eve or New Years. I know, consumerism, but hey you have to look pretty. Well, it doesn’t need to be just-out-of-the-box new. It’s just a special outfit for those dates.
Querido Niño Jesús/Papá Noel.....
Este año me he portado muy bien y quiero que me traigas... (a gift your heart longs for)” - Dear baby Jesus/Santa, this year I’ve been good and I want…
In the Hispanic world, some celebrate Christmas Eve, others Christmas Day, and others both. You have as many traditions as countries and sometimes more.
Everybody loves gifts, so you’ll start your letter with “Querido Santa…” – WRONG!
In Latin America, Santa is the commercial image of Christmas. Then, who has the real power when it comes to gifts? Baby Jesus! (Yep) Or el niño Jesús, el niñito Jesús, el niño Dios, and so on.
In Spain and some part of Latin America, however, Papá Noel brings some gifts and sweets to children on Christmas’s Day. And later on 6 January, the Three Kings bring the real gifts to those children who were good the whole year.
¡Pero cómo has crecido! ¿Y el novio/la novia? – Oh my, you’ve grown so much! Where's your boyfriend/girlfriend?
Christmas Day is here and it’s time to meet WHOLE the family and I mean everybody. Hispanics have a different concept of close or immediate family. It’s not just mum, dad, and sibling… it includes your aunts, uncles, cousins you didn’t even know existed, your uncle’s friend second cousin neighbor who happened to go to school with your granny aunt’s grandson´s childhood friend. In a weird way you’re all family now.
AND yes… You have to say hey to them with one kiss on the cheek (Latin America) or two kisses on each cheek (Spain). Don’t be late! Otherwise you are going to spend about an hour saying ‘hi!’ and having awkward conversations (mostly why you haven’t got married, had children, became a millionaire, graduated) and yes, people will wait for you to say hi. You cannot hide.
¡Muchas gracias! ¡Me encanta! Era justo lo que quería – Thank you! Love it. It’s just what I wanted
In some Hispanic countries, the gifts are opened on midnight 25 December; other countries wait until the morning. Well, it’s time to open your gifts and your find yourself with a terrible one that some family relative gave you. So you just have to smile and say ¡Muchas gracias! ¡Me encanta! Era justo lo que quería and just hope and only hope the gift wrap was a nice one to recycle for future Christmases. Every Hispanic household has a bag full of gift paper that they’ve received and reused until it’s destroyed. Hey, a caballo regalado no se le mira colmillo [don't look a gift horse in the mouth.] Got it?