Christmas in Spain (Navidades) runs for 12 days from December 24 to January 6. There are many traditional celebrations, fiestas, dishes and treats that are essential for most Spaniards over this period.
This year, Viva! Tapas Restaurant in Phu My Hung is bringing all the style and flavour of the Spanish Christmas experience to Ho Chi Minh City.
In Spain, the festivities start on Christmas Eve (or Nochebuena in Spanish), when entire families will gather around a table loaded with exquisite delicacies to have dinner together (and when we say family in Spanish, the word suggests a great number of people of many generations). The annual family affair is a joyful event, where the sumptuous meal and the high spirits carry on until late at night.
On Nochebuena, most families in Spain will include at least one course, often two courses, containing the fruit of the seas – large shrimps, freshly caught fish, lobster, langoustines, etc., normally eaten as a starter course.
A fresh Mediterranean salad may be next, followed by a hot soup made with fish and/or shellfish.
The main course, or plato principal will traditionally be a roast dish of whole pig or lamb (cochinillo asado/cordero asado) with accompaniments of vegetables, fried potatoes and rice.
For dessert, Spaniards will enjoy one or more of the traditional Christmastime desserts (or postres), such as Turrón de Navidad or Tarta de Santiago (for the origins of these desserts, see below).
Finally, an after-dinner digestif of coffee served with a glass of orujo or aguardiente will round off the family meal.
Turrón de Navidad
Turrón de Navidad is an almond nougat candy, traditionally eaten in nearly all Spanish houses during the Christmas period. It is said that the Moors (Arabs from Northern Africa) invented turrón over 500 year ago in Jijona, a small town about 30 miles or so north of Alicante in Eastern Spain.
Traditionally Jijona was famous for the quality of its local honey and the almonds grown in the area. Together with egg whites, these make up the only three ingredients necessary to make turrón.
These three simple ingredients became representative of the three pillars of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and this religious symbolism ensured that Turrón de Navidad became the festive time treat for all Spaniards.
Tarta de Santiago
It is said that, after his execution in Jerusalem, the body of St James, brother of Jesus, was shipped to Northern Spain where he had previously established a religious order. Just before the ship reached port, it was caught in a terrible storm, and the body of St James was lost to the seas. Several days later the body appeared on the shores, miraculously undamaged. The body was laid to rest in the nearby mountains, where later a monastery was built around the tomb in the town of Santiago de Compostela, Gallicia. The tomb remains at the Cathedral to this day, which is a popular destination for many Christian pilgrims every year.
Over the centuries, the monks studying at the monestary of Santiago de Compostela, invented a wonderful cake (or tarta) made from ground almonds and eggs. This cake became popular across Spain and, because of the association with Santiago de Compostela and St James, became known as “Tarta de Santiago” and is decorated with the Cross of St James.
Christmas at Viva! Tapas Restaurant
This Nochebuena (Christmas Eve, December 24) you can celebrate the start of the festivities with your family and friends with a special Christmas Eve dinner, only available at Viva! Tapas Restaurant.
The price per person is just VND 695,000 (VND 295,000 for children under 12), and includes all of the following:
Complimentary glass of wine, cava, beer or soft drink.
Shrimp Cocktail – Langostinas con Salsa Rosa.
Cream of Seafood Soup – Sopa de Carabineros.
Spit Roasted Pig – Cochinillo Asado OR: Salmon in Caper Sauce – Salmon con Salsa Acaparra.
Salad, Fried Potatoes, Rice, Sautéed Vegetables, Bread, Alioli.
Orange & Almond Cake – Tarta de Santiago.
Nougat – Turrón.
Coffee – Café.
To ensure you get this sumptuous menu, you must make your reservation before December 20 by calling 08-5410-6721 or 0937-139716. Please indicate how many in your party, and your choices for the main course (pork or salmon). Dinner will be served from 7pm to 11pm (last seats must be taken by 10pm) on December 24.