February 7, 2009


Notwithstanding the difference in customs indicated in a previous post and my on-going jet lag, I’m already making plans for travel early in the year for there are two celebrations I simply can’t miss. And both uniquely Spanish in character.

The better known of the two, Semana Santa, starts on April 5 in Granada. We all know that the Spanish can party, but they have a serene, reflective side, too, and you’ll see it here during Holy Week. A succession of solemn but strangely uplifting torchlit processions fills the streets around the Alhambra, with hooded marchers, images of Christ strewn with jewels and flamenco devotional songs.

But it’s the second festival, Las Fallas, that starts on March 16 in Valencia, that I’m looking forward to more. The citizens of Valencia are a feisty bunch, but they’re creative with it. You’ll see the results during this festival based around 700 ninots, huge papier-mâché caricatures of public figures - including a large number of politicians - that are lampooned, ridiculed, stuffed with fireworks and ceremonially burnt on March 19. It’s shockingly loud.

Just think if such a bonfire of the vanities took place in Britain? Which public figures would be the first to go up in flames? Answers on a postcard please.

No, make that several postcards…

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