As some of you already know, my husband hails not from the good old US of Hey but rather from a city on the coast of Northern Spain by the name of Santander.
Santander is the capital of the Spanish region known as Cantabria, and though the city itself was officially founded in 1755, its origins date as far back as 26 B.C. It is a beautiful port city with mild, oceanic weather and a population of almost 200,000 people, and because I have no shame and will try to hook readers any way I can, I will now casually mention the fact that the 2001 Nicole Kidman movie The Others was filmed there as well.
So anyway. As you can imagine, It’s all kinds of interesting being married to a Spaniard. He and his family have welcomed me with open arms into their rich and celebrated culture, teaching me more than I could have ever thought possible about their beliefs and traditions and stuff and junk and whatnots. And I hope you’re interested in learning about these things too, because I was just settling in to tell you ALL about them, whether you wanted me to or not.
Here we go!
1. In a Spanish family, you must NEVER. EVER. put your shoes on the table or your purse on the floor. Putting your shoes on the table risks bringing all manner of bad luck upon you and your family, and a purse on the floor means your ass ’bout to be as broke as all hell. FOR REAL, SON.
However, dirty socks on the living room floor are perfectly acceptable. Apparently.
2. If you have any knick-knacks or tchotchkes in the shape of elephants, they must always have upturned trunks and face away from the door or else BAD LUCK. While this superstition is not Spanish per se, I first learned of it from my husband and his family so in my mind it counts. (There’s also some debate about whether the elephant should face towards or away from the door. My husband’s family says away.)
Now hear this. I may believe in a mysterious bearded man who walks on water and lives in the sky, but I absolutely refuse to assign destiny-altering powers to inanimate objects. Mainly because I AIN’T CRAY. I do want my house to look good, however, and having decorations facing *backwards* is a concept I find totally and completely ridiculous. It offends my sense of design on a deep and almost visceral level. Thus, my husband and I have committed to waging a long, drawn-out, incredibly passive-aggressive battle over this particular item:
3. Spanish people eat twelve grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve. I know this doesn’t sound so bad, but let me clarify — it’s not like you’re allowed to eat these twelve grapes calmly and at your leisure. Oh no. You have to eat one grape per bell chime at midnight — if you’re shitty at math, that’s one grape per second for twelve seconds.
Think about that. I mean really think about it. Actually, no. Go into your kitchen and get just one single grape and see how long it takes you to eat it. I bet it takes hella longer than one second. What I’m trying to say here is that eating twelve grapes in twelve seconds is pretty much impossible, which I guess is why it’s supposed to bring you a year of good fortune if you can manage it. But I’ve been with my husband for thirteen years and I don’t remember anyone in the family EVER actually doing it.
(SIDE NOTE: I hate fruit, so I try to bypass this particular tradition when and if at all possible. Unfortunately, I usually get suckered into at least making the attempt. When that happens, I just eat one single grape over the course of twelve seconds and then sneak the other eleven into the garbage. ¡Feliz Año!)
4. In a Spanish family, getting off of the phone can take anywhere up to 100 hours. Seriously. I’m not kidding around. This is my husband getting off the phone with his mother:
Husband: “OK. Ok, Mamá. Adios.”
Husband: “Sí. Sí.”
Husband: “Sí, sí, sí. Adios. Sí.”
Husband: “Adios, Mamá. Adios.”
Husband: “Ok. Sí. Adios. Adios. Adios.”
Husband: “Ok.” (laughs) “Sí, sí, sí. Adios.”
Me: “MY GOD. FOR REAL?”
5. The country of Spain has generated some amazing food phenomena that fortunately have nothing to do with grapes. Check it:
- Olives and olive derivatives everywhere;
- Paella (Rice with all kinds of delicious shit in it. My wonderful mother-in-law makes it with calamari, scallops, shrimp, sausage, and chicken);
- Torrijas (French toast on Easter);
- Turrón (nougat candy on Christmas);
- Croquetas (and tapas in general…yum);
- Churros con chocolate;
- Churros con chocolate; and did I mention?
- Churros con chocolate.
There are so many more things I could write about but I’m running out of time and space so I’ll have to come back to them on some future occasion. For now, I feel the need to mention that — in all seriousness — I truly love my Spanish husband and his family. Very, very much. I tease them about some of their cultural “quirks” just as they tease me about some of mine. And isn’t that what an increasingly global community full of international families should really be about? Making fun of each other’s shit and then laughing about it?
However, there is this one thing that is currently driving me completely fucking NUTS:
Me: “What are you watching?”
Me: “It is NOT pronounced that way. I’ve told you a thousand times.”
Husband: “Fine. How is pronounced?”
Me: “WIM. BULL. DONE.”
Husband: “That’s what I said.”
Me: “No it isn’t. Repeat after me. WIM. BULL. DONE.”
Husband: “WIM. BULL. DONE.”
Me: (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
Lucky for him he’s hot.