When I moved myself across the world to live and study in Madrid, I didn’t know how much I would miss some of my favorite United States fall traditions. From the middle of September to the middle of November, I consider it the season of fall; the calendar would disagree with me since fall technically lasts from September 23 until December 21. As an October baby, I’m feeling a little homesick right now. And having some FOMO (fear of missing out).
I see the Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts about how lovely it is to go to the apple orchard and the pumpkin patch as I sit on the terrace of my university sweating because it’s still 80 degrees. I know, some of you would like to trade places. I would love to trade my sandals for your flannels, believe me, because I am one of those people that adores fall.
As a child, one of the things my family always did was our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, where we would do all the quintessential fall things, like taking a hayride, drinking cider, and getting lost in a corn maze. We would pick out the largest pumpkins, go home, carve them, and put candles inside. And of course, my mother would bake the pumpkin seeds into a healthy snack for us to take to school. When I got older, I carried on this tradition with boyfriends, who were not thrilled about being the oldest people at the patch, but I wanted my fall fling.
This whole post won’t be nostalgic cry for the fall activities that I love and I’m missing out on. There are actually several fall activities I can do here in Spain, it’s just a little different than what I’m used to.
Firstly, one of the most important Spanish holidays is in the fall. All of Spain shuts down on October 12, which is the national day of Spain, known as Fiesta Nacional de España. This day commemorates when Christopher Columbus arrived in America. It’s different for me because Christopher Columbus, in American culture, is looked at as a bad guy. Also, some people in the United States don’t even have Columbus Day off, while in Spain, as well as parts of Latin America, it’s a national holiday.
Anyway, in Spain, there is a huge military parade where the Spanish monarchy attends. It’s really big in Madrid, but other areas around Spain celebrate too on a smaller scale. Most importantly, this holiday is about enjoying the time off with your family. Fall time is family time, my friends.
Secondly, aside from celebrating the October holiday, there are other fall related things to do. The leaves do change colors here too, it just takes longer. Taking a stroll in Retiro Park is a way I (and you, if you’re here) can enjoy the fall weather in Madrid.
Comfort food starts becoming a big deal here when the weather turns, with churros and chocolate, cocido (a stew) and other heavier dishes becoming the stars of the show. It’s not the same as the Thanksgiving feast I’ll be craving next month, but the food is delicious nevertheless. And it keeps me warm, as I am one of those forever cold people.
So enjoy your apple picking, leaf-peeping, corn mazing, pumpkin patching, trick-or-treating, hayriding, bonfiring, football playing, haunted house visiting, falls as I search for a pumpkin at the store I can carve.
If you’re abroad this fall, make sure you spend time exploring the fall activities your city has to offer, instead of dwelling on what you’re missing at home.