Goodbye to tradition

I was going to write the Tuesday blog this week, but Rubí got in there first.  So you get two Tuesday blogs this week.  The nasty people who get their thrills by stressing a worried donkey, in the benighted village that the Refugio del Burrito brought to our attention, claim to be doing this because of “TRADICIÓN.”

Leaving aside the ignorance of those who torture animals by excusing it as a tradition, it is becoming abundantly clear that the rapid secularisation of Spanish culture leads to widespread ignorance of any kind of tradition!

In keeping with Catholic tradition, there is a seasonal carnaval at this point in the calendar, to coincide with Shrove Tuesday.  In school it was announced that children and staff could wear their carnival costumes to school last Friday. Rummaging around for a costume, I spent some time sewing scallop shells on an Australian ranch coat and matching sou’wester, and converting a very long broomstick into a pilgrim staff, and I went to school dressed as Santiago de Compostela, Saint James the patron saint of Spain.

I tried the costume out on the donkeys but they all quickly fled to the far end of the field.
They came back when they realised Saint James had carrots for them.

At school on Friday morning, I had no sooner parked my car in the street nearby and set off towards the school gate than a passing motorist called out “¡ Buen Camino !”  Clearly she had got the reference straight away.  It was not so easy in school.

“Great cloth, Mr Thomas!  Is you being a pirate?”

“No, don’t be stupid, Pablo: Mr Thomas is costumed a fishing man.”

To be fair, when I did registration for Year 12 at 9.25 they knew that I was meant to be Saint James but they had no idea he was the Patron Saint of Spain.  Nor did they have any idea why we have carnaval at this time in the calendar: it was just an opportunity to dress up.  Who cares what it means?

Santiago de Compostela and the banana boys of Year 12

Carnaval is really about shopping.  We can all go to the Carrefour hypermarket, pick up a few banana costumes and have a good laugh.  That’s the be all and end all of it.

So the first hour of the school day was spent going around in procession to the sound of banging drums and then we were all expected to carry on delivering lessons as usual for the rest of the day.  No chance.  A class full of Year 8 in carnaval costumes and your Geography teacher Mr Thomas dressed as a “pirate” and you won’t get much done on the subject of coastal erosion.

So I spent the whole day telling each class to put their books away and launching into an hour long explanation of who is the Patron Saint of Spain, how the disciple of Jesus came to Spain on a mission, was martyred and by legend came to be buried in the province of Galicia.  Then we looked at carnaval  and why this happens before the Catholic season of Lent, leading up to Holy Week and Easter.

My classes were amazed.  It seemed they’d never heard any of this.  It was better than The Lord of the Rings.  Each lesson finished with applause.  These were some of the most successful lessons I have delivered in this school year, and I came away totally depressed at the end of the day.  We have totally lost it, haven’t we?

A Geography teacher who has totally lost it.

12 thoughts on “Goodbye to tradition

  1. Here’s some more variously local and British matters to take your mind off the ongoing Catalonian soap opera …

    Last year the Spanish government won a formal veto over the provisions of any future EU-UK deal that would apply to the territory. Since Britain insists that Gibraltar must leave the bloc on the same terms as the UK, the use of such a veto could derail a broader Brexit deal.

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  2. The Cataluña situation is now regarded by most Spaniards as an unwelcome and protracted drain on the national economy and a scandal of a pointless sect obsessed with its own internal battles.

    In the long-term it is being dealt with by a long process of summonses against individuals for their illegal actions while in public positions, and the cases in the high court could drag on for years.

    “Nothing to see here. Keep moving along please.”


  3. Meanwhile the 155 Saga has a new Episode :

    … but it would seem to me that the rules of the Catalan Parliament should in principal allow Inés Arrimadas to make her bid, even if it were a no-hoper, after the point where it will have been definitively established that the Separatists are incapable of forming a Government (and it seems indeed that they are not).

    I still think that Catalonia is heading towards new elections in the Spring or Summer …


  4. A rough start to Lent, Jabba. And here too we are getting back on track after various false starts. The donkeys are eating straw for Lent, but after careful consideration they decided not to give up their morning carrots because these hold out a vision of the heavenly Jerusalem.

    My decision on the choice of a Lent book was made a while ago, but I had to reconsider it. I originally ordered Cardinal Sarah’s book “The Power of Silence” and I thought I would look at the first few pages and then save the rest for Lent. It turned out to be a great disappointment, surprisingly: a disjointed collection of quotations, rather than a developed spiritual text with a continuous thread. I thumbed through it to see if there would be anything more substantial, but could not imagine myself persevering with it, and it has sat on the shelf ever since.

    What better to replace it with, Jabba, than your namesake Mother Julian? I was reminded of “Revelations of Divine Love” by a recent edition of the Radio 4 programme “Something Understood” which included readings from Julian of Norwich and a very compelling selection of music.*

    I’m looking forward to reading it again. According to Amazon’s package tracker, Mother Julian’s revelations will be delivered by courier to the Bar Cantonet today. Oh dear: another false start. Having my Lent reading delivered to my local bar is inviting a further slack approach to Lent discipline, isn’t it?

    *You have 12 days left to listen to this programme, according to the Radio 4 web site. (So if you’re reading this blog post in six months time, you’ve missed it!)


  5. Gareth, over here they’re organising Ash Wednesday as Saint Valentine’s Day too, and later this month Carnival season during Lent (viz. François Rabelais & various Carmina Burana passim)

    I *did* manage to focus past the ongoing noise of some “let’s all make love and who cares about morality ?” 1960s & 1970s live love songs garbage during lunch to read some of the dire warnings in Ezekiel against all of this “fornication” and worldliness, which was somewhat à propos if you ask me, but golly is this an uphill struggle !!!

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  6. Thank you Jabba and Alys. I just came back from Vila Joiosa, where all the shops seem to be geared up to marketing gifts, cards, chocolates and flowers for St Valentine’s Day.

    Tried the church to see if the imposition of ashes might be on offer. It was shut. Hello everyone? Catholic Spain? Can I remind you all it’s Ash Wednesday?

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