2. Festivities to be lived around the hearth’s heat.
In addition to the “international” Christmas tree, Spanish homes are decorated with the ‘belén’, a figurine-recreation of Jesus’ birth along with members of his family, shepherds, animals… Some homes try to marvelously build the nativity scene up to its last detail, adding dozens of characters and building a miniaturized city in the process. There is, moreover, many cities and municipalities who exhibit big public nativity scenes and even ones where the neighbours pose as figurines and create a “living” belén.
During these days is likewise traditional for the little ones to ask their uncles, grandfathers, etc, for an ‘aguinaldo’ (a money gift). In order to merit such gift, kids sing Christmas carols with musical accompaniment of the classical tambourine and ‘zambomba’ (a type of friction drum). The aguinaldo tradition in Spain comes from the garbage-collectors, postmen and other service-providers who went to wish happy Christmas to neighbours, handed Christmas cards to them and ask for spare-change in return. The tradition evolved in many a town so that today is children who sing until they obtain their ‘aguinaldo’.