Christmas is the holiday that we like the most to spend as a family and with loved ones. Its consumerist side is not a consequence of living in a globalized world. They always had those nuances
Although Christmas is linked to the Christian religion, its origins are pagan and date back to very distant times. All cultures, including the Canarian aborigines, have celebrated the winter solstice (December 21). The designated days of our Christmas holidays, Christmas and the Adoration of the Kings, are 12 days apart, the same as between the lunar year of 354 days and the solar year of 365.
Those 12 days were used, both in ancient Egypt and during the Roman Empire, to celebrate lavish parties full of all kinds of excesses. But we don’t want to go so far back in time. However, this short introduction can help us to have a different and more open vision of Christmas
Currently Christmas begins with the school holidays. But, a few decades ago, December 13, the feast of Saint Lucia, was the day that the Christmas period began, and ended with the Visit of the God child. If you ever wondered how Christmas was lived in Fuerteventura, stay with us!
Christmas in Fuerteventura
Formerly, Christmas was a collective celebration of the people, where social classes were blurred. They were lived in the streets and squares. People danced in the churches and the houses were wide open. The bourgeoisie was the one that celebrated Christmas by dining around the same family trunk.
The arrival of power lines to houses on the island (70s of the 20th century), together with the tourist boom, and the popularization of TV, meant a great leap in the way of life of the Majoreros. Some ancient traditions began to be abandoned, others were imported, and many were modernized.
Among the traditions that are no longer celebrated in Fuerteventura Christmas are the Easter Ranches.
Gourmand Ranches and Pascua Ranches
Los Ranchos is one of the oldest traditions in the Canary Islands. Its origins date back to the end of the 15th century. They consist of a group of musicians who walk through streets , singing pitiful songs and praying for the deceased. They collected offerings of money and spices to celebrate masses in favor of the deceased. Los Ranchos lasted from November 1 (Day of the Dead) to February 2 (Candlemas Day). The Ranchos that were held since December 13 were the Pascua Ranches, and their songs had the Nativity as their main theme.
This tradition is in serious danger of disappearing. Luckily, the Ranchos de Ánimas de Tiscamanita and Tetir keep this tradition alive in Fuerteventura. The gourmand ranches were formed by groups of neighbors who met spontaneously, and collected a bonus that they used at a dinner in which all the members of the ranch participated.
Nativity scenes In Fuerteventura
The Nativity scenes were placed, some time ago, on December 13. They were made, in each house and parish, in a traditional way, with elements that were had by hand, such as roots, reeds, paper, a flour paste that was later painted, etc. The first thing that was done was to sow wheat, birdseed and lentils separately in small and low height containers. All these seeds germinate in about 10 days, filling the Nativity with greenery, just on December 25.
Masses full of merriment
Christmas Eve masses used to be very crowded and had a festive, almost carnival atmosphere. Tambourines, flutes and other rustic instruments intervened that made a lot of noise. All kinds of verses were sung. Some people dressed up. The “Baile del Niño” was performed, some dances, somewhat crazy, inside the church, and around the Child. Later, a play was performed, jokes were told and they had fun until dawn. In Tuineje, for example, they sang verses to the Child Jesus asking for rain. A curious dance was also performed, “The Fight of the Devil and the Angel.”
This very different and joyful way of celebrating Christmas Eve mass disappeared in the first decades of the 20th century.
The three wise men
Since the Middle Ages the Auto de Reyes Magos have been celebrated. They were popular representations, in various acts, which took place in and around the churches. The Auto tells what happened from the Annunciation to the visit of the three wise men to the Child. It was staged in all the municipalities of Fuerteventura, while camels waited at the door of the churches. The longest text of those represented in the Canary Islands was that of Betancuria, which has a little over 1,800 verses, and which could come from an original text by Fray Gaspar Fernández de Ávila. Its staging lasted six hours and was accompanied by isas, folías, malagueñas, timples and poorly tuned choirs.
This function disappeared in the 80s of the last century. But thanks to the tenacity of the Betancuria residents, in 2010, it was possible to recover.
The three wise men parade
The Auto de Reyes, was the antecedent of the three wise men parade. The first proto-parade, in our country, dates back to 1866. The retinue of horsemen who distributed gifts to poor children evolved into a quasi-circus parade, with floats, animation, and curious characters who distributed candy and toys. The first Three Kings parade in Fuerteventura took place at Christmas 1962.
Christmas gastronomy in Fuerteventura
The Christmas dates are conducive to the preparation of special dishes and desserts that sweeten meals on these holidays. Among the traditional dishes is the meatloaf. This cake as a puff pastry that wraps a piece of meat, usually pork, garnished with matalauva, almonds, and other delicacies. Chicken casserole was another of the foods reserved for Christmas. Among the sweet recipes were party bread, trout stuffed with sweet potatoes, cheese with almonds and bienmesabe.