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Happy New Year gentle reader! I hope your year has started on the right foot, with a bright year ahead filled with new adventures and memories. The holiday season here in Valencia (and Spain in general) continues through January 6, when Tres Reyes, or the Three Kings’ Day, is celebrated. In front of the Valencia cathedral, a mercadillo navideño (Christmas market) appears, with many traditional and not-so-traditional gifts. I was lucky enough to get to the market early one evening on my way to visit with a friend, and the market was quiet and uncrowded, which is rare.

Many of the decorations in Valencia focus on the Three Kings, while Santa Clause, or Papa Noel, is a relatively new arrival to Spain. Here, the culture focuses on the home and the celebrations, but not the gifts. Sure, there are gifts, but the special time with family is emphasized instead of presents, shopping, and the general nuttiness that is part of the holiday season the US. Decorations are more likely to have a religious theme than a secular one, and elaborate nativity scenes appear throughout the city.

So, in the spirit of the season that will conclude next week, I thought you might like to see some of the pictures that I took of the market and some of the city decorations. I will be writing more about the holiday season in the next few posts!

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