Well, would you look at that? It’s already the most wonderful time of year again! Halloween came and went in the blink of an eye after we wrapped up the summer season and now there’s a giant tree standing tall at the top of Vara de Rey, quaint little wooden market huts in the square and the streets are festooned with festive lights – it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. There’s something so old fashioned and charming about Ibiza at this time of year – despite the evolution of the island, it still seems to have escaped the clutches of Christmas commercialisation…
I’m not saying retailers aren’t wringing their hands with glee at the thought of all that extra Christmas trade (after the mayhem of Black Friday is over, or as I prefer to call it, Bleugh Friday), but here there seems to be a lot less overkill when it comes to gift giving. The shops just trade their regular hours, day in, day out. They close on Sundays, like always. You hear far less Christmas carols – or bastardised pop versions of Christmas carols – than you do in any city! Gift wrapping services are minimal to say the least (think store-branded bag with a sparkly gift tag – no gift wrapping stations or choices of paper and ribbon). You don’t see countless stocking stuffer gifts that are rendered completely useless after the first moment they were opened. There seems to be a lot less greed here at Christmas, and along with that, less waste. It’s not totally minimal but it’s not Oxford Circus.
Which brings me to the lights. One of the things I’ve always loved about Ibiza at Christmas is the simplicity of the lights strung across the main streets (31 on them according to the local newspaper!). For many years, they were recycled, simply rotated from street to street so it always looked different – aside from the ‘Bones Festes’ at the entrance to Ibiza town, which still makes me giggle even though I know the translation. Last year, new energy efficient lights were introduced and hopefully these too, will be rotated around the island rather than simply replaced by a new-fangled design like other major cities in the world. The lights will be switched on this Friday November 29, 2019 at 6.30pm (which must make all the pre-Christmas naysayers happy – sticking to traditional timelines like this) by none other than the goddess Tanit, which seems like a very bizarre Christmas deity (or, err, celebrity) but hey, it’s Ibiza and who are we to argue?
In my ideal world, the official Ambassador of Ibiza, Paris Hilton (I’m not kidding – she really has been ordained), would jet into town and do the honours, or maybe her island highness Charlotte Tilbury, who was born and bred in Ibiza and could do an in-store appearance just a little down the square in Sephora after she’d done her switching-on duties. Or maybe it should be the Mambo King, Javier Anadon, alongside his sons the Mambo Brothers in honour of their A-list DJ status, with an after party. What about Carl Cox (could he also dress as Santa? ‘Ho-ho-yes!’), or Papa Sven? The truth is, once the summer is over, the remaining population of Ibiza isn’t likely to be interested in superstar DJs or famous faces (and vice versa!), especially when it comes to lighting Christmas lights – and that’s what makes it still so quaint and charming.
I have always loved Christmas. Always, always, always. I believed in Santa Claus (or at least pretended to believe) right up until the point where I couldn’t get away with it anymore, and on the inside, I still secretly hope to hear sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling too, on Christmas Eve. I have always loved the way a Christmas tree lights up a room – even without the lights on! I love collecting decorations – even the ugliest of felt decorations from the late 70s in our house had a story – each year and adding them to my collection, and I love that magic moment when the tree is finally ready and you add the angel on top. For me, it’s always got to be an angel. I love giving gifts – if I lived in a city I would be the worst for buying into the commercialisation of Christmas, so perhaps it’s better that I live here and follow a more frugal gift giving style!
But, I am indeed a purist when it come to my tree. It won’t be going up until December 1 and it will come down on January 6, promptly. These dates were instilled into me as a child and no matter how much I love Christmas, I can’t break the rules (although there was one year that I left the tree up until March, but I’d been in an accident so couldn’t physically do it – suffice to say though, I definitely did experience bad luck!). If other people want to put their tree up before D.Day, that’s their choice – and I totally understand why you would! Who doesn’t want more Christmas joy in their life? And if you take it down in February, or later, well, if you want to risk the evil spirits taking hold of your home after the ‘twelfth night’, again, that’s your prerogative.
Here in Spain, the twelfth night is actually also celebrated as part of Christmas – Kings Day, as it’s called, is the day children receive their presents (from the three kings, not Santa – though you’ll find these days they often get both), so I’ve come to love Christmas even more ever since I moved here. It’s the occasion that keeps on giving – whereas in Australia, the UK or the USA, you’ve moved onto New Year and the subsequent hangovers and resolutions, here, we take a break to party and then get back to the Christmas festivities. The more Christmas the better!
We may not have snow in Ibiza, we may not even have weather cold enough to warrant wearing a Christmas sweater, but our little island/small town Christmas is just about as perfect as it can get if you ask me (which you didn’t). We’ve got oysters and champagne in Plaza del Parque, we’ve got Christmas hippy market at Las Dalias, we’ve even got gluhwein and chestnuts roasting on an open fire at San Jordi flea market on a Saturday. We’ve got the goddess Tanit lighting our Christmas lights! We can have Christmas lunch on the beach (and yes I KNOW we can also do that in Australia, but it’s far too hot there to enjoy eating anything at all). We’ve got Casa Maca’s awesome Christmas Market. We’ve got the Three Kings Parade on January 6! It’s the Christmas that keeps on giving. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve just got to go and put on my Kylie Christmas album and start unpacking the decorations in preparation for Sunday morning – because I wouldn’t dare do it a moment before, but that doesn’t stop me from singing along!