All EOS blogs All Spain blogs  Start your own blog Start your own blog 

Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

New Year's Eve Traditions in Spain
Thursday, December 28, 2023

The arrival of a new year means a time of change and, for this reason, many wishes are made. The New Year's Eve celebration is full of traditions and superstitions that seek prosperity for the future. One of the most deeply rooted is to eat twelve grapes with the chimes, but there are other customs.


Wearing red clothes

Celebrating New Year's Eve wearing red underwear is one of the superstitions they have in Spain. This colour symbolizes passion, love and prosperity. For this reason, it is believed that starting the year with red underwear will bring good luck. Other people tie a red bow around their wrist or wear a garter of the same colour.


Coloured candles

Having the house illuminated during New Year's Eve is also a habit to attract good luck. It is said that depending on the colour of the candles, some things or others will be attracted. For example, yellow means abundance, red love, blue attracts peace and green attracts health.


Wish list

This tradition consists of writing down the wishes for the new year on paper and saving them until the following year to see if they have been fulfilled. In addition, it is also traditional to write down the negative things that you want to leave behind and burn the paper before the end of the year.


Cava with gold

Another of the most common traditions on New Year's Eve is to toast with cava or champagne. Also, there are people who believe that putting a piece of gold jewellery in the champagne glass, such as a ring, will attract wealth. In these cases, it is important to be vigilant so as not to swallow the piece.

Other people believe that, at the time of the toast, money should be carried in pockets and shoes to attract abundance.


Eating lentils

This tradition originates from Italy but has also reached Spain. Lentils are believed to represent money and, for this reason, after the chimes you have to eat lentils. The ritual has to be done by placing a plate of lentils in the centre of the table and eating a tablespoon per person after the toast.

Like 1        Published at 10:44 AM   Comments (0)

Christmas Turrón!
Friday, December 22, 2023

Turron is recognised in Spain as a symbol of Christmas. It evokes festive spirit and socialising over the festive period. It is a very old, traditional sweet similar to a nougat, believed to be of Moorish (Arabic) origin. It was a desired dessert of King Felipe II of Spain, and there was even a book "Conduchos of Christmas," which was written by Felipe's chef Francisco Martinez Montino, that described turron in detail. It was often served for special occasions and when guests would be visiting, and this has remained a tradition ever since. If you ever go round to a Spanish family’s home during Christmas there will always be some turrón on the table.

Turrón has been a popular sweet for centuries, even outside Spain’s borders. It is said that the Moors invented turrón during the 15th Century in Jijona, a small town about 30 miles or so north of Alicante.

Jijona’s economy is entirely reliant on the production of turrón and there is even a museum of turrón that chronicles the process and history of the sweet.  There are two traditional types of turrón. Soft turrón referred to as Jijona, which you won’t break your teeth on and hard turrón referrred to as Alicante, which is like a thick almond nougat candy, similar to peanut brittle, and is pretty hard on the teeth but the almonds are fantastic once you get going!
The area of Jijona is an important region for almond and honey producers. The wild flowers which are abundant in the region combined with the almond tree flowers créate an ideal ecosystem for the bees. The honey, together with the almonds makes for the two main ingredients used in turrón. Sugar is also added and egg White for binding, producing a exquisite sweet. However if you do not have a sweet tooth it may not be for you! In 1939 The turrón from Jijona was protected by a designation of origin defining exactly what is traditional turrón and how it should be made, establishing different levels of quality, as with olive oil.
Alicante or Hard Turron is made by roasting, then chopping the almonds and mixing them with honey. The mixture is then simmered over heat and stirred constantly with large wooden spoons. Egg white is added to bind the mixture and it is cooled. Once cooled, it is cut into pieces that resemble bricks, wrapped in paper-thin rice paper and packed.
Jijona or soft turrón is  alot more work. Once the hard turrón has cooled, the blocks are ground up with almond oil to form a sticky paste. Then, it is reheated and beaten for hours until it forms a soft, even mix. Egg white is then added as a binding agent and cooled in square metal containers to be cut into thick slices and packed, due to the almond oil this neve goes hard and has a much softer consistency and is also easier on the teeth! Although these are the main two varieties of turrón, as you can imagine it has opened the door to whole range of different flavours which include egg yolk, nuts of all sorts, chocolate, dried fruits, truffles and even on ocasions rum ó brandy. In essence it is a very simple tradicional sweet that can easily me made at home. 



Like 1        Published at 1:00 PM   Comments (0)

Christmas needs a good digestif.
Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Licor de Orujo, or simply Orujo, is a Spanish liquor which is very similar to other European distilled spirits such as marc from France, grappa from Italy and tsiroupo from Greece. All of these drinks are made by distilling grape marc/pomace, which is the solid part of the grape that is left  over after the fruit has been pressed - in other words the skins. In Spain it is most common to drink this after a heavy meal as a digestif.

The name of the drink also comes from the ingredients. Those of you who study Spanish might know that the left over parts of the grape after crushing are called 'orujos' in Spanish. The skins, seeds and stalks of the grapes are all put into closed vats and then fermented before being distilled in order to produce the liquor. The stills, which are called alambique or potas, tend to be like large copper kettles which are heated over an open fire. These stills were brought to Spain by the Moors when they conquered Spain.


The distillation process in order to produce alcohol actually originated in Ancient Greece and Alexandria, one of the main focal points of Mediterranean culture during the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Alcohol distillation become much more advanced later on thanks to the Arabs, who applied their knowledge and blending techniques to alcohol distillation. Alcohol is actually an Arabic word. Back in these times, distilled spirits were often believed to have medicinal properties - an opinion that still exists today.


Licor de Orujo however, only appears many centuries later; the first reference to the spirit being in 1663 when a Jesuit monk from Germany, named Atanasio Kircher, documented the existence of hard liquors such as orujo being produced from grape marcs in his chemistry treaty.

Since this time, the history of orujo has been difficult. As soon as the hard liquors began being produced, the government began imposing heavy taxes on the drink and the production and consumption of such liquors and distilled drinks were actually banned during the 19th century. Concessions and allowances began to be made during the first few years of the 20th century, although there were still a number of obstacles that orujo had to tackle.

Orujo at this time was often produced from portable stills, and distillers would travel from town to town to produce the drink. People would give the distiller their grape harvest, which he would then make into orujo. The people would then receive most of the liqour back, although the distiller would take a cut of it to cover his expenses and a bit of profit too!

Now, licor de orujo has to be made to industry and legal standards, although the drink is very commonly made at home. This level of regulated quality has also led to a number of highly revered distilled spirits being produced over the past two decades, and in fact, many licores de orujo have now been awarded Designations of Origin. These DO licores de orujo are produced from high quality grapes and are now replacing some of the home-made versions, which tend to only be found in small towns and villages.

Today, licor de orujo is produced mainly in the northern regions of Spain such as León, Galicia and Asturias, however the liquor is drunk throughout the country. So no matter where you decided to go when you visit Spain, you will still be available to find this drink in a bar or restaurant.

The best place to try licor de orujo is in Galicia, and more specifically, in the town of Potes. It is here that, every November, the Fiesta del Orujo is celebrated and there are many opportunities to taste the best of the liquor. They also hold a distilling competition where people produce the drink using their own stills and then judges award prizes for the orujo which tastes the best.

Orujo which has just been distilled is actually a clear liquid but it is often that you will find orujo which is more of an amber colour. This amber version of the Spanish spirit is called 'orujo envejecido' which means 'aged orujo' which is normally fermented and distilled in the same way as normal orujo, but it is then left to age in oak barrels for around two years which then produces the distinctive colour. You may also find Orujo de Hierbas which is  yellowy in colour but this orujo has a higher sugar content so it doesn't taste as strong and it has also been macerated with wild herbs giving it a very distinct flavour. Whichever one you try, I am sure you'll love it!

(One of my favourites is Martin Codax as pictured)

Like 0        Published at 10:29 PM   Comments (0)

The Flour Festival in Spain - Els Enfarinats
Saturday, December 9, 2023

No festival in Spain is complete without a bizarre tradition like throwing tomatoes or running in front of bulls or jumping over babies or setting off tons of gunpowder...

The annual festival of Els Enfarinats is celebrated with the mother of all food fights; flour and eggs. Els Enfarinats takes place in the town of Ibi in Alicante on December 28 as part of celebrations related to the Day of the Innocents. During the day-long festival, participants dressed in mock military dress stage a mock coup pretending to take over the town. Dressed in a slovenly manner, they enter banks and shops stirring up trouble in a good-humoured way, imposing fines on shopkeepers and bankers, mocking local dignitaries and reading humorous speeches. Those who oppose are assaulted with flour cakes and eggs.

The tradition's origins are unclear, but it is believed to have grown from the ancient Feast of Fools, or Fiesta de Los Locos, once part of the old Roman festival of Saturnalia. The tradition is over 200 years old.


Like 1        Published at 10:37 AM   Comments (1)

Casa de las Veletas - Cáceres Museum
Friday, December 1, 2023

The Cáceres Museum is housed in two historic buildings in the historic town centre of Cáceres, declared a Human Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The 'Casa de las Veletas' (Veletas Palace) houses the Archaeological and Ethnographical sections; it is a building which originates from 1600 by and was built by its owner, Don Lorenzo de Ulloa y Torres, in a site which may have been once occupied by a Muslim fortress which has now disappeared. The beautiful square patio with its eight Tuscan columns dates from this period. Nevertheless, the house was redesigned by Don Jorge de Cáceres y Quiñones, who introduced the gargoyles and the beautiful enamelled pottery ornaments on the roof, as well as the large shields on the main façade.

The Fine Arts collection can be seen in the Casa de los Caballos, which was a stable and later a dwelling until its conversion into a museum; after a recent renovation, it was opened to the public in 1992.

Although the first Board of the museum was set up in 1917, the concept of its creation arose in 1899 when a group of scholars of the history of Cáceres began to collect objects of archaeological and artistic interest and keep them in the Grammar School. In 1931 the Palacio de las Veletas was rented to house the Museum, which after an architectural refurbishment, was inaugurated on 12th February 1933.

After the later acquisition of the building, it was renovated in 1971 and the permanent exhibition was improved, a task which was repeated in 1976 in the Ethnography Section. In 1989 the Ministry of Culture transferred the management of the Museum to the Government of Extremadura, retaining for itself the ownership of the building and part of the funds. 



It is the Archaeological collection which gave rise to the Museum itself, beginning its formation at the end of the 19th century. It occupies five rooms on the ground floor, and two more rooms in the basement of the same building which house the mediaeval collections, plus a third one with information about Muslim cisterns.

The chronological development of the archaeological exhibition extends from the Lower Palaeolithic to the beginnings of the Middle Ages.

The  visit  starts in  the  hall  itself. This houses a big white marble sculpture which represents an androgynous genie (of a benevolent nature) coming from the Roman colony “Norba Caesarina” which gave origin to the present city of Cáceres.

Room 1 presents various lithological industries belonging to the Palaeolithic period, coming from river terraces of the province. Objects from the Neolithic period are also shown and others excavated from various megalithic tombs.

Room 2 provides a global vision of the most representative elements from the Bronze and Copper Ages, the collection of standing blocks as well as objects from the first Iron Age.

In room 3 we enter fully into the world of pre-Roman settlers. Amongst its most representative productions are the boars.

Rooms 4 and 5 are dedicated to Rome and occupy the most extensive space showing various aspects related to urban development, economy, religion and the funereal world.

The basement of the Casa de las Veletas houses the medieval collections, plus a collection of Roman epigraphy.

In room 6 objects and decorative architectural elements can be found related to funeral and liturgical spaces of the Late Roman, early Christian and Visigothic Ages.

The rooms 7 and 8 show a representative part of the important collection of Roman inscriptions reunited throughout the province, with inscriptions of three types: funerary, votive and honorary.

The epigraphic collection of the Museum, with about 150 copies, is among the most important in Spain and gives us a wealth of information on aspects such as social class, religious rites, geographical origins, etc.

Here you can visit the Islamic cistern - water deposit, dated between the 10th and 12th centuries, which was located in the basement and is the largest water deposit created in Spain under Arab rule, heir to the grand byzantine reservoirs of Constantinople. It is 14 metres long and 10 metre wide.



Situated on the first floor of the Casa de las Veletas, the Ethnography Section explains different processes and shows various objects which inform us about the models of cultural development in the province of Cáceres. Room 9 is dedicated to the production of resources, particularly agriculture, stock-breeding, hunting and grazing with interesting examples of farm implements and tools for caring for stock. Following the visit, we pass to room 10, where we can contemplate objects related to the production of resources –river fishing– and its transformation, through the production of oil, cheese and wine and the craft of carpentry.



Room 11 instructs the visitor on aspects relative to work, through activities and trades such as filigree, including the main components of a goldsmith´s workshop from Ceclavín, as well as the typical pieces of jewellery for the summer costumes of Cáceres, and mechanisms related to textile manufacture from a traditional loom to combs, carders, a winding machine or a spool. Room 12 presents a rich collection of costume, from linen undergarments to holiday and everyday clothes of Montehermoso, Serradilla, Malpartida de Plasencia, etc.

Continuing the visit in room 13, we reach a collection of items of domestic use shown together with other large objects, such as the bench and stocks for prisoners from Guijo de Granadilla, the still from Guadalupe or the mule cart from Zorita. In the showcases can be seen pottery from Talavera, Puente del Arzobispo or Manises and also examples from Extremadura, as well as objects made of horn, bone and wood. Room 14 is dedicated to beliefs and musical expression.



The Fine Arts Section consists of two rooms in which different artistic collections are placed. In room 15 the most outstanding items from the collection of Contemporary art are shown, which began with the creation of the Cáceres Prize for Painting and Sculpture in the seventies and eighties, and the works it acquired at the time and which the Junta de Extremadura continues to acquire. Exhibits representative of Contemporary Spanish Art of the 20th century can be seen, with works by artists belonging to the most representative artistic movements such as “El Paso”, with Saura, Millares or Canogar, or the Grupo Crónica. Near them are creations by key artists such as Picasso, Miró, Clavé, Genovés, Guinovart, Guerrero, Lucio Muñoz, Barjola and Tàpies. The sculpture  of the 20th century is represented by Alberto, Chirino, Palazuelo and Oteiza, among others.

The collection can be described as the most important in the region relating to this period in Extremadura and, no doubt, one of the most representative of the Spanish avant‑garde, with the presence of the best known artists.

In room 17 examples of Medieval and Modern art are installed. They include sculpture (in wood, ivory and alabaster), goldwork and painting. The key piece of this room is the picture of Jesus the Saviour by El Greco, which comes from the Convent of Agustinas Recoletas del Cristo de la Victoria, of Serradilla.

The museum is very much worth a visit and not particularly well known, so if you happen to be in  the area pay it a visit. It is free for all EU citizens. 



Like 3        Published at 9:17 PM   Comments (0)

Spam post or Abuse? Please let us know

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x