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As regular as clockwork

There have been lots of things going on since I got here and, particularly since the beginning of this year - Kings, San Sebastian, Las Águedas, San Blas, San Anton and, of course, Carnaval. Their organisation is second nature to all the locals. They don't need to be told that this and that happens on such and such a day at this or that place, it's simply their culture, a local tradition. To me, new to the the town, they have all been fascinating events to gawp at.

As I strolled home this evening I noticed this shop window display. A sign that it's First Communion time. 

Spain isn't very Catholic anymore in the sense that far and away the majority of people aren't churchgoers or even believers but it is still incredibly Catholic in its celebrations. Government Ministers continue to be sworn in with their hand on a bible in front of a crucifix, the great majority of holidays and fiestas have some Church link and there is a story of an old communist and his daughter's First Communion. When a Fellow Traveller asked him why he was submitting his daughter to the ritualistic Church mumbo jumbo he answered "Because I'm Spanish!"

From what I've heard First Communion is now also the opportunity for an ostentatious show of wealth. The outfits, little admirals and miniature brides, are chosen with an enormous attention to detail and apparently 500€ is a pretty typical price for the girl's get up. I understand that arriving at a church in a hired limo is reasonably commonplace and the meal is a hugely costly affair - the more guests you can afford to sit down and the more splendid the menu the better for your social standing. The average cost last year was reported as 3,600€ but, bear in mind, if a poor family only spends 1,000€ on it's communion the richer family could spend 6,200€ and the average price would still hold.

There was a bit of a hiccough in this palaver last year when the Church decided that there should be changes to the teaching of the catechism. I've heard two stories, one that it was not thorough enough and so the classes were extended for another year and the other was that children had to be at least ten when they went through the ceremony. It could be that both are true and the differences are due to different practices in different dioceses. Either way this halted the flow of celebrants for a year and punched a big hole in the incomes of the people who sell the communion clothes, take the photographs and make the videos as well as the banqueting rooms that host the post event meals. It was not a popular decision. Just to give you some idea one of the places that advertises its catering services back in Alicante was able to seat 3,000 people - I presume they expect to host several events at once but even then it's a lot of chairs, a lot of cooking and a lot of waiters.




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Combining my blogs

This blog is now dormant. It records our time in the beautiful city of Ciudad Rodrigo but it's a while since we've lived there. We now spend part of our time in Cartagena, Murcia and a part in Culebrón, Alicante.

If you would like to gave a look at what we're up to now just click on one of the tabs at the top of the page.

That's it

Done. Finished. I'm just about to disconnect the computer and that will be it. We managed to get everything in the cars, tomorrow morning we'll dope up Edu and then all we have to do is to drive across Spain. The Culebrón link below will be in use for the next few weeks before we move on to Cartagena in September. Click on the links below.
So this blog is dead. Ciudad Rodrigo is history. Culebrón for the summer and then Cartagena.
The story continues .......

Missed something else

This morning, as I cleaned my teeth, I heard hooves in the street. I didn't bother to rush out. I took my time, I put on my boots and strolled out to buy fags and a paper. There were signs of horses or mules or donkeys having passed down the street. When I came out of the fag shop I noticed a fair sized crowd by the Fat Tree but the fun was over, the crowd was drifting away and I didn't have my camera anyway.
I've just checked the town web site and it says that The Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Peña de Francia, having been blessed by a local chaplain, set out on a Romeria (a sort of pilgrimage) from the town today heading for one of the highest peaks in the area - the Peña de Francia. They won't get there till Sunday as it's some 50km from here.