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Welcoming back the prostitutes

Shocking I know but today we celebrated the return of the prostitutes to the city of Salamanca. A tradition that seems to have spread to our own little town - we did it by going down to the river and having a picnic the main element of which was a local pie stuffed full of bits of pig. Actually we ate our hornazo in the kitchen but we were by the River Águeda in spirit and we did go to stare at the picnicers a little later in the afternoon to show solidarity.

Apparently, back in the 16th Century Philip II (the one who got his beard singed by Drake) decreed that the prostitutes from the town brothel in Salamanca should be shifted across the river Tormes for the whole of Lent to ensure that the menfolk remained chaste. The women were put under the care of a priest, un Padre, who became known as Padre Putas (Father Whores) - it's quite amusing in Spanish but it loses something in the translation I feel. The women were allowed back into the city on the second Monday after Easter Sunday and the students went to meet them as they were rowed back across the river with plenty of food and drink. 

Randy students no longer have to wait for the Lunes de Aguas for sex and as most of the prostitution in Spain is now run by Eastern European and Latin American gangs I suspect the work routine of the prostitutes is pretty much unaffected by Lent. Nonetheless, the feasting still remains, at least symbolically.

The day is called Lunes de Aguas which only seems to translate as Monday of Waters and I can't find out why - maybe it's to do with crossing the water of the River Tormes. 

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