Tag Archives: celebration

The Spanish way of celebrating Christmas: a night out in Valencia

2018-12-20

In the Western world, Christmas traditions are similar in many countries: presents, Santa Claus, colorful lights, reindeer, Christmas tree, and songs about a peaceful celebration of the darkest time of the year in the northern hemisphere. In Spain, Christmas is not necessarily the number one festivity of the year. Here is how people in the city of Valencia celebrate it.
ice-skating at town hall square in Valencia, Spain, Europe
Valencia is Spain’s third largest city with more than a million inhabitants in the metropolitan area. The origins of the city are in the era of the Roman Empire that settled military personnel on the banks of the Turia River. Even though Valencia is increasingly attracting tourists from across the world, it remains a genuine Spanish city. It has its unique culture, traditions, and big fiestas, like Fallas (in March) and Los Reyes Magos (in January).
Valencia town hall with christmas lights
You can find out more about the fiestas of Valencia in Klaava Travel Guide to Valencia, Spain. The top sights, attractions, and cultural tips are introduced in the guidebook as well.

Although Christmas is not the flashiest and loudest fiesta in Valencia (or in Spain), it is a perfect excuse to go out and spend a night out in the city center.

Shops and department stores are open late, swarming with customers. Cafes and restaurants are so busy that queues may form outside the most popular ones. If the world’s biggest lottery El Gordo hasn’t been announced yet, people queue to the kiosks that sell lottery tickets.
A popular cafe serves traditional Horchata drink
Traditional herbal shop in Valencia at Carrer de la Pau.
In Valencia, two destinations attract the biggest crowds: Plaza de la Reina and Plaza de Ayuntamiento.

The famous Cathedral of Valencia stands at the north end of the Plaza de la Reina, and that’s where the traditional Nativity Scene is set up. These Nativity Scenes are constructed every Christmas in every city, town and village.

Plaza de Ayuntamiento is a large Town Hall Square that has plenty of action during Christmas. The Town Hall and many other buildings have been lit up, as well as the fountain. Something that you probably don’t expect to find on the sunny Mediterranean coast of Spain – an ice-skating rink – has been built on the square. Courageously, Valencians test themselves on the ice as others cheer skaters on from the sides.

Some places in the old city center of Valencia can be crowded during the evenings and nights of Christmas, but there is always a seat and a table in a restaurant or bar a short walk away from the busiest areas.

travel guide to Valencia, Spain, South Europe

The best parties during Finland’s 100th independence year 2017

2017-09-08

The Nordic country Finland became an independent nation in 1917, on December 6th. It had been the westernmost, autonomous province of Russia, and before that, the easternmost province of Sweden. The early years were tough for the new nation, and only after the Second World War, the country began its rapid development to one of the most advanced societies in the world.

Aleksanterinkatu, Helsinki
Finland is celebrating its 100th Independence Day throughout the year 2017. A dedicated web site published by the Prime Minister’s Office shares up-to-date information on events associated with the celebrations. Which event or party is the one to attend?

Here are some guidelines to help you plan:

– The actual day 6th December tends to be dark and murky in southern Finland where the biggest cities are located. In Lapland, there is snow on the ground and the Northern Lights in the sky.
– In September, Helsinki is cooling towards winter, but weather is often fine. In Lapland, hikers and trekkers have the highlight of the year as the autumn colors light up the landscape.
– In October, the annual Herring Market is a traditional big event at the Helsinki market square in the city center.

How Finns themselves celebrate their 100th Independence year?

The traditional way to celebrate the Independence Day in Finland is to watch television. That’s right. The highest viewer numbers each year are for a program that lasts several hours in the evening of the Independence Day. The majority of Finns are glued to their TV screens, watching as important politicians, celebrities, artists, successful sportsmen and ambassadors of countries who have representatives in Helsinki shake hands with the President of Finland and his wife (or husband, as happened with the previous president who was a woman).

During recent years, Finns have adopted other alternatives – in addition to watching television – for celebrating their Independence Day. Since the day happens to be during the darkest time of the year and often, during the murkiest weather, staying indoors is the preferred option. Having dinner and lighting candles at home, or attending a concert are a few alternatives to television.

Tips and advice for the best destinations in Helsinki and for understanding the Finnish culture and customs

A Concise History of Finland – an easy-to-digest history of Finland.
The Best of Helsinki – a travel guide to the capital Helsinki, features also local favorites.
The Lighter Side of Finland – an American author living in Finland has captured the essence of Finns in an entertaining way.
Lapland – a travel guide to Europe’s last large wilderness.
8 Arctic Seasons – an award-winning book on the delicacies and adventures of Lapland.
Spaghetti and Sauna – insight into Finnish culture and customs through Italian eyes.
Finnish Cookbook with Modern Flavors – a brief introduction to some traditional meals, and modern variations of them.