Happy Tuesday everybody,
Today, a week day, is as usual one spent in the world of Reality, but it is the start of the Christmas festivities here in Spain, and I thought I would share the traditions of the country in which I live (when resident in Reality) with you.
Today is a holiday (not for me I work to the UK calendar), it is accepted as the start of the Christmas festivities yet in reality the purpose of the holiday is to celebrate Constitution Day. In 1978 the people of Spain approved a referendum defining the Constitution of Spain. This set out how government would be run, what powers they had and determined the governmental system that Spain operates on today. Constitution day is a celebration of the day Spain became a democracy, when the final hold of the previous dictatorship wascast aside, a day for celebration indeed.
However, this auspicious day is closely followed by the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which falls on December 8th, this Spanish holiday is based on the Catholic dogma that states that while becoming pregnant the Virgin Mary did not suffer the “original sin” as she was “filled by god” and as such the conception was “immaculate”.
What these two celebrations lead to is a 3 day working week, Tuesday and Thursday being national holidays. This brings me to the most fabulous of Spanish traditions The Puente (The Bridge). This is a concept many people back in England have their own private version of, linking extra days off work to recognised holidays, when I lived in England this was achieved by a sneaky sick day or two. Not so in Spain, for many the celebrations started at the weekend, I could hear and see the fireworks across Malaga city from my vantage point high in the hills of the small Spanish town where I live, and will continue through to next weekend. For many businesses and people there will be no work until next Monday the 12th December.
The lights are in place, the Christmas trees are decorated, the roast chestnut stalls are ensconced in their territories roasting away into the early hours of the morning, the almond sellers are out with their amazing salted roasted almonds in paper cones, and Christmas has arrived.
Today is Constitution Day and the sun is bright, sitting low in the cloudless blue sky, the temperature is 18° yet feels cold out of the direct sun. The polo necks and jumpers are out and the light weight quilts are on the beds, the gas bottle heating is on low in the morning progressing to full in the evening, central heating and carpets do not feature in the houses here. I have yet to decorate my house but this morning I received my first Christmas card and this prompts me to consider when I shall tackle the annual ritual of lights and tinsel and all things Christmassy.
Inevitably, I am starting to reflect on 2011 and my writing career, which started so grandly on December 31st 2010, and was quickly followed by my first assignment for the comprehensive writing course, a piece describing the Three Kings Celebration on January 6th. I will share the forthcoming 30 days with you as best I can, local customs and what Christmas is like here, combined with my reflections of a momentous and frustrating writing year.