Did you know that Santa Claus is kind of a Bore/Old News/Not that Interesting anymore … TO ME ANYWAY, because Galicia has shared stories with me of another chubby man, this one hailing from the mountains of Lugo, called O APALPADOR. This man has a great big beard too, not white though, it’s red; and his clothes are simple and come in earthy tones. He comes down from the mountains bearing gifts as well, but they are of a humbler kind. PALPAR in Spanish means to touch or feel… but don’t make it creepy, the chubby man comes on the night of the 24th of December to feel the bellies of the children and make sure they haven’t eaten too much on the night before the 25th. Then he leaves for them Castañas/Chestnuts. Native in Galicia, castañas used to be a huge part of the diet of Galegos, all the way back to Roman times and even earlier. Now the funny thing is, Galegos cannot agree definitively that O Apalpador actually existed in Galicia years and years ago. Some have told me that he was invented in Galicia when there began a trend to create some kind of proper identity for Galegos. When speaking Galego became trendy again, and acceptable again (as Franco banned it in España during his dictatorship), according to some that’s when this Holiday figure started gaining some fame. It’s a nice story. It’s a nice myth. The fact that he would leave something like chestnuts or other foods for the children instead of iPhones and Nikes, laptops and video games, now that’s something. Those that told me that the myth of the big bellied mountain man has existed for quite some time explained that children in the mountains of Galicia in past decades often went to sleep with empty stomachs. Times were tough during Franco’s reign. So this special night when the children had something to look forward to, durmiendose con las barrigas vacías/going to sleep with empty stomachs and waking up to some castañas, sounds like a beautiful tradition. Most importantly, the children were grateful.
Believe me children and adults need myths and something to believe in from time to time. . . so for those of you that believe, O Apalpador passed through Galicia last night on Noite Boa/Christmas Eve.
Vai-te logo meu ninim/nininha,
marcha agora pra caminha.
Que vai vir o Apalpador
a palpar-che a barriguinha
Já chegou o dia grande,
dia do nosso Senhor.
Já chegou o dia grande,
E virá o Apalpador.
Manhã é dia de cachela,
que haverá gram nevarada
e há vir o Apalpador
c´uma mega de castanhas.
Por aquela camba,
já vem relumbrando
o senhor Apalpador
para dar-vos o aguinaldo.
Vete corriendo mi niñito/niñita, vete ahora a la camita. Que va a venir el Apalpador a palparte la barriguita.
Ya llegó el día grande, día de nuestro Señor. Ya llegó el día grande, y vendrá el Apalpador.
Mañana es día de asar, que habrá una gran nevada, y vendrá el Apalpador con un cesto de castañas.
Por aquel talud, ya viene alumbrando, el señor Apalpador para daros el aguinaldo.
(translated by me so sorry for any errors)
Go running my little boy/girl, run now to bed. Because the Apalpador is coming to touch your tummy.
The big day has come, day of our Lord. The big day has come, and the Apalpador will come.
Tomorrow is the day of roasting, and there will be a big snowfall, and the Apalpador will come with a basket of chestnuts.
Through that slope, he comes illuminating, the Apalpador to give you the present.
IT’S BEAUTIFUL! I LOVE IT! My future kids will not be sucked into this Capitalistic Apocalypse that we are currently facing across the world. Imagine a world where “CHESTNUTS” made your child smile, something so simple from the Earth to fill their bellies. Can you picture it with me?
Let’s change the meaning of CHRISTMAS/NADAL/NAVIDAD again. Let’s look back to the traditions of long past, to the simplicity of those times, to the humility of those times.
Remember Christmas Carols, singing with family or perhaps listening to music if you aren’t into creating it yourself? My grandfather loved gathering and singing while my uncles played guitars to accompany his favorite songs. . . I will forever miss that and keep those warm memories of him during the holidays. In Galicia they sing traditional songs/carols, which they call Villancicos (en español) and Panxoliñas (en Galego). One of the teachers at my school said as a little girl, singing villancicos/panxoliñas was a tradition in her village. They would go around singing and playing small instruments in the village on January 5th in the hopes that their neighbors would give them a small tip (aguinaldo). She said there was no Papa Noel (Santa) and no Apalpador that she knew of, just Os Reis Magos celebrated throughout all of España on the 6th of January. The Three Kings or Magi/Los Reyes Magos/Os Reis Magos are the true gift-bearers in Spain during the holidays. The problem is, España has now adopted Papa Noel and gift-giving on the 24th/25th of December too. Then in January on the 5th/6th they give gifts or receive gifts from the Reyes Magos again. Notice a trend? GIFTS AND STUFF, STUFF and more STUFF.
Crap! Where is the self control? GIFT GIVING & GETTING IS EXPECTED/DEMANDED. But I say, your time is enough. Your presence is enough. YOU ARE ENOUGH! It can’t be about that other stuff anymore. We are failing the younger generations teaching them these habits, spoiling them rotten. Santa in the States, o Los Reyes Magos en España, and family and friends too contributing to the obsession of gift-giving. I’m done with that type of Christmas.
All my love and light to you, which hopefully is enough
Reflections of mine from throughout this holiday season and on this Christmas Night. BO NADAL, FELIZ NAVIDAD, JOYEUX NOËL, BUON NATALE (lover) & MERRY XMAS FROM SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD!!