Feliz Navidad or Merry Christmas?
Christmas is probably my most cherished Holiday. Growing up in Communist Cuba it was quietly celebrated, since Communists had vanished the holiday. You see, Navidad in Spanish means Nativity, a direct reference to the birth of Jesus. Therefore, the government didn’t want anything to do with the Holiday.
But even though there were no visible lights to the outside world, and no presents (since the stores didn’t carry anything), it was a celebration on the evening of December 24th, rooted in family warmth and a sense of how blessed we were to have survived another year with health and love.
After I left Cuba, my first Navidad in Madrid, Spain was the total opposite. Groups of young people locking arms and singing “villancicos” (Christmas carols) on the streets, Nativity scenes everywhere you looked, trees and lights, sweets and special drinks, and every imaginable possibility for gifts. Yet, there also the focus was on family togetherness, good food and friends. And usually a Church service of some kind close to midnight on the 24th to remind us of transcendence, love, goodwill, and generosity.
As years went by, and I lived in Central America, Mexico, Germany, and USA, it seems my Christmas has evolved. The rituals I enjoyed with my children, or enjoy now with my American husband and friends have many flavors. The food includes different favorites from everywhere and it can start on the evening of the 24th and continue onto the 25th! Also, some years are totally different from others.
But I hope the essence of our holiday season always remain intact: a celebration of heritage and tradition, of family (however that word is defined, and whomever is present or absent) and a collective connection and obligation to each other that transcends self and materialism.
Remember. . .
Christmas is what you make it. Instead of bemoaning whatever you don’t like about what is going on around you, decide what you are going do about the Holidays.
I want to wish you a Feliz Navidad and invite you to reflect on a few questions. Does Christmas have any meaning for you, or do you prefer to ignore it? What is most important to you for the Holidays? What traditions do you keep or encourage? Would love to hear from you!