This weekend the city of Sevilla turned on its holiday lights and wow! The place looks gorgeous. Main thoroughfares, public buildings and large squares all got the Christmas treatment with poinsettias, life-size nativity scenes (called belenes), Christmas trees, and, of course, light displays. Not even my Metro stop was left out! The Christmas bustle is palpable especially in the shopping district, where every Sevillano seems to be working through their shopping lists. The narrow streets frequently get jammed- the Spanish tradition of “dar un paseo” roughly translated as “to take a stroll” exasperates the conditions as whole families brave the bad weather to take a look at the transformed city. Here’s a small sample of what we’ve seen decked out this weekend…

Clock store in the shopping district in Sevilla

All of the trees around the Cathedral are sparkling with lights.

Christmas lights down a main thoroughfare

A graffiti artist conveys a Christmas-y message

Nativity scenes form a much more central role in Christmas decorations here than in the US. I’d say they’re almost comparable to our Christmas trees in terms of importance and familiarity as a Christmas symbol.

A life-size belén in a public square

Another large belén in the window display of the department/grocery store where we shop. The store has organized ropes to form a line so that shoppers can orderly pass by to take a look!

This is a belén market. It’s a Christmas tradition here for families to construct little nativity villages in their homes . The villages include markets, bull fights, flamenco dancers and more alongside the scene of Jesus’ birth. The stalls pictured here sell every little accoutrement to add to the villages, including pinkie-nail-sized pigeons and sausages. Note the Mickey Mouse selling balloons on the right. I don’t think Disney would be happy about this!

One of the belén market stalls’ windows

You can buy a butcher shop to add your belén…

…or some townspeople playing cards to make it complete.

Of course, we’ve made our own effort to deck the halls here at the Mesón Dos Jotas. In the picture you can see the poinsettia Julia bought and the paper snow-flakes we made on a rainy afternoon. This is Joanna, another language assistant- she’s learning to play guitar!

Keep reading to see what culinary adventures we got into this weekend!