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31 December 2014

New Year's Eve on the Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are the perfect place to celebrate New Year. The pleasant climate offers the perfect conditions to receive the new year relaxing in the sunshine on one of the beautiful beaches of the Canaries. On the 31st December there are options for every taste. Many luxury hotels organize gala dinners, there are New Year's Eve parties in bars and clubs and many towns and cities organize fireworks and parties. As elsewhere in the world, New Year's Eve is celebrated with champagne and fireworks, yet there is a Spanish tradition that is also very popular on the Canary Islands. The tradition of the "doce uvas de la suerte" ("the twelve grapes of luck") began in the 19th century within the Spanish middle and upper classes, who celebrated "Nochevieja" with champagne and wine grapes. In 1909 the tradition was adopted by a majority of the population. This year there was a large grape surplus and Spanish farmers from Alicante promoted the "grapes of luck" in order to sell their crops. Over the time, the grapes became a New Year's tradition and today they are almost mandatory. The grapes symbolize prosperity and according to superstition they give good luck. Each person gets twelve grapes that are eaten in the last minutes of the finishing year with the last twelve chimes of the clock. And who did not choke in the attempt, can now wish a Happy New Year to all!


15 December 2014

Christmas on the beach - Belén de Arena, Gran Canaria

The Nativity scenes, called "Belenes", are an important tradition in Spain and the Canary Islands. Their origins are found in the 14th century in Italy, where some churches were decorated with them, and then this custom spread to other Catholic countries, like Spain. Almost every household had its own lovingly constructed Nativity scene. Traditionally, the set up of the scenes started on 13 December and the baby Jesus was added on 25 December. But nowadays with the increased popularity of the Christmas tree, most Nativity scenes only consist of the most important figures. However, many churches and communities are trying to maintain this tradition with detailed and artistic Nativity scenes. The most spectacular one of the Canary Islands is located in Gran Canaria. The "Belén de Arena" in the capital city of Las Palmas is made with sand by international sculptors on the beach Playa de Las Canteras. This year, the work was done by six artists, who, in just eight days, transformed more than a thousand tons of fine sand into a spectacular artwork, which occupies about 2,000 square meters of the beach of Las Canteras. The Sand Nativity Scene is one of the city's top attractions during the Christmas period and ensures that even the beach with its warm temperatures gets a little bit of Christmas flair! The "Belén de Arena" can be visited until January 7 - a perfect destination for a trip during your holidays on Gran Canaria!


5 December 2014

The green heart of La Palma

La Palma is also called "Isla Bonita", the "beautiful island". Why this is so, one can best understand on a visit in the green heart of the island, the National Park "Parque Nacional de La Caldera de Taburiente". It is one of Spain's oldest national parks and in 2002, the park along with the entire island was designated as a World Biosphere Reserve. The depression was originated about two million years ago and, just like the rest of the island, it has a volcanic origin. The "Caldera de Taburiente" also has a special place in the history of the Canary Islands, because it was the place with the strongest resistance against the Spanish conquerors in the 15th century. At that time, La Palma or "Benahoare" ("my land"), as the island was called by the Aborigines, was divided into twelve kingdoms ("cantones"), each governed by a chief ("mencey"). The natives of La Palma were mainly goatherds and collected fruits and roots with which they made a kind of flour known as "gofio". In 1492 the conquest of the island began under the leadership of Alonso Fernández de Lugo.

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