With Christmas arrive meetings with family and friends, afternoons around the chimney, playing with the children of the house and dinners with each other and for each other…
In this Christmas time in Canary Island we enjoy our traditional celebrations at the same to another region of Spain. Other celebrations are importing from different countries of Europe and these celebrations are integrating in our local culture and also we share with our guest.
Also we can find other representations which are deeply rooted in tradition and popular culture of the Islands and today we want to recover it for you will know.
What popular Christmas customs are celebrating in Canary Islands?
Ranchos de Pascua
Ranchos de Pascua was born in Canary Islands in the 16 Century. They were musical groups that went around the villages in November to collect donations to celebrate the mass for the dead. This tradition called first “Rancho de Ánimas”, and it was extended until Christmas, so for this reason now it calls “Rancho de Pascua”..
The groups were interpreting songs accompanied by stringed instruments, triangles, bells, the typical instrument for Canary Island “Timple” and tambourines, and during Christmas they were singing in the church in Christmas night, New Year and Kings night.
This custom was established in the islands of Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria, although due to the prohibitions imposed by the church that this kind of groups come to sing there a lot of the fell into oblivion and also disappear.
Nowadays in Lanzarote we can find the “Rancho de Teguise” that is one of the most ancient of Canary Islands and it has preserved the typical dances that were realized at the entry of the church in honor the child Jesus.
In these days this tradition has been rescued in different villages of the island and local people are efforting to keep alive preserving singings and clothings.
Christmas folk dances
Christmas folk dances in Canary Island like the “Dance of La cunita” and the “Dances of El niño” are another christmas traditions in this islands. This custom in´t extended like “Ranchos the Pascua” but it keeps popular in some villages of Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
The Baile de la Cunita (Small Cradle Dance), is typical from Santa María de Guía, in Gran Canaria, and takes place on Christmas day in the town square where a cradle with a baby is placed and four couples dance “seguidillas” around it.
The Bailes del Niño (Child’s Dances), are performed in the churches where dancers are back to Jesus Christ dancing “tajarastes” (a kind of typical dance from Canary Islands). This tradition is still alive in some areas of Tenerife, like La Matanza and El Ravelo town, in El Sauzal.
Also we should talk again about the Rancho de Pascua in Teguise at Christmas Eve. A representation of local dance takes places in the Church. The group enter into the temple dancing the only one example of dance that has been conserved in this kind of groups. The dance is performed during the kissing of the feet and has a special feature: the dancers play their tambourines and retreat and advance with their dance moves without turning their backs to the image of Child Jesus.
he nativity scene or “pesebre” is one of the other traditions at Christmas in the Canaries.
Although in the streets and homes of the Canary Islands other foreign traditions have been adopted, such as the Christmas tree, many families keep up the tradition to meet at home and with their personal touch and lovingly make the nativity scene. They represent the differrents scenes of the adoration of the Baby Jesus: the manger, the mule, the steer, the shepherds, the arrival of the three king, etc.
Also in the main squares of many towns and cities are exhibited real works of art representing the scenes of the nativity and other scenes related to the local tradition and culture.
Among the most well now nativity scenes in the islands we can mention the following:
Traditional Nativity of Yaiza (Lanzarote)
A classic of every Christmas in Lanzarote is visiting the traditional nativity scene of the town of Yaiza. This nativity scene has, in addition to the usual scenes of the birth, with the representation of traditional houses to scale, and emblematic places of the island such as Salinas de Janubio, Montañas del Fuego, La Geria, Mirador del Río, etc. resulting in a very beauty work.
Traditional Nativity of Haría (Lanzarote)
One other symbolic place of the island is the traditional Nativity of the village of Haría, which is visited every Christmas not only by the people from Lanzarote but by tourists who visit us. The village is already a true Christmas picture with its valley of 1000 palms when we observe it from one of the viewpoints in the area. The nativity of Haría is usually located in the Plaza de la Constitución and every year it tries to transmit the Christmas spirit to its visitors.
The Nativity Route in the North of Tenerife
In Tenerife there is a deeply rooted tradition of the Nativity. Every year, coinciding with the Christmas holidays, homes, shop windows of the main shopping streets and halls of institutions of the island are taken up with authentic works of art that stage the birth of Jesus.
For locals and visitors could appreciate these wonders is organized since early December a special Christmas route that runs through many cities and towns in the north (Santa Cruz, La Laguna, Puerto de la Cruz, La Orotava, Güímar etc.) where the visitor, besides knowing the heritage and history of each municipality, can visit the nativity scenes prepared on the occasion of the Christmas season.
Nativity sand beach of Las Canteras beach (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria)
UA classic of Christmas in the capital of Gran Canaria is the spectacular sand nativity scene that takes place at Las Canteras Beach and every year attracts a multitude of visitors. This special nativity, unique in Europe, has for its creation with recognized sculptors of international prestige, who year after year overcome their dexterity.
Autos de Reyes
In addition to the classic three king’s parade in which children and adults from all corners of the islands live the emotion of the visit of Their Majesties, in many towns of the Canaries it is also customary to stage the so-called “Autos de Reyes”. It is dramatised the long journey made by the Three King from the East to the Bethlehem to adore the Child Jesus and give their gifts.
This representation has different variants depending on the locality or the place where it is represented: inside of a church, the main square of the town, or even in different stages distributed throughout the urban area, as happens in the town of Agüimes (Gran Canaria), whose Autos de Reyes are one of the most multitudinous of the islands, which brought together more than 300 participants in the staging.
Also are well known those that take place in the municipalities of Tejina in Tenerife, Mogán and Gáldar in Gran Canaria, Betancuria in Fuerteventura and Garafía in La Palma, among others.
And naturally, the traditional gastronomy and the Christmas recipes are a must these days in the canaries.
The marine products take relevance on the table. There highlighting dishes are those with onions, cherne (a kind of fish) and cod.
As to the meat, the typical dishes are the “Cabrito en adobo” (marinade kid) and the “Conejo al Salmorejo” (Rabbit Canarian style).
But undoubtedly the real stars of the festivities are desserts and sweets. Each island has its Christmas tradition: the “Quesadillas” in El Hierro, the Vilana cakes in La Gomera, the cakes of Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife, the “Rapaduras” and “Marquesotes” in La Palma, but above all, the star dessert and favorite of all Canarian homes at Christmas are “Truchas”
Truchas are usually made from puff pastry and stuffed with sweet potato or pumpkin, ground almond paste or cabello de ánge (Pumpkin Hair of Angel). There is nothing more identifying at Christmas in the Canarian houses than the smell of hot puff pastry, cinnamon and sweet potato.
As you can see there are many traditional demonstrations and Christmas customs in the Canary Islands. Get to know them and enjoy them in this festive season.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND OUR BEST WISHES FOR THE NEW YEAR!