Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

TGIF, bridges and religion in Spain.

by metavision Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 07:10:30 AM EST

TGatoIF.

Today is Constitution Day in Spain and a national holiday.  That´s good, but what´s even better is that Friday, Dec. 8 is another holiday:  "The Immaculate" ("virgin" Mary).  That´s the day when you have to remember every Mary you know to wish them a "happy saint´s day", since everyone gets to celebrate two days a year for themselves, their birthday and their "saint´s day".  I am not researching where the latter one came from...

The Mary part is a global warming problem at this point.  Just "about every female" in this country and "half the males" have Mary as part of their name.  The rivers of ink wasted putting that name on paper, in the past century alone, seems enough damage, but who can measure the brainwashing effect caused by the repetition?
.....
We have María---Jesús/Elena/Gloria/Josefa/Isabel/Fernanda/Esperanza/Luisa/Cristina...  María Dolores = Mary Pains, you name it!  As to the males, the name Mary is carried in second place, as in  Juan/José/Pedro/Jesús---María.  Except, of course, for Mario?

From the diaries (Happy Saints Day Maria!) ~ whataboutbob


Add to that, the necessary patron saint and patron virgin, or shred of cloth thereof, that every single hamlet, village, etc. has, and you have a holiday being celebrated in many places at once, all year.  Mostly in the summer, but season is not an obstacle.  Holy week is coming.

Wait, wait... I´ll get to it.

The ex-cow town I live in, about 12 km. from Madrid, has anointed itself with three, non-exclusive, virgins to keep lots of street decorating, lighting and fireworks companies, plus most awful bands, in business.  Not necessarily in this order, we have Our Lady of Consolation, Our Lady of Annunciation and Our Lady of Carmen.  The Carmen one happens to be the patron of sea-people, but inlanders think it´s irrelevant.

One of them is enough to call a "big week" in the summer, so city hall is closed, businesses do as they please and banks (multinationals) close at noon, instead of 14:00.  Everyday of the week.  You know how religious these two-bit politicians and bankers are.

(Sorry object bloggers!)  That´s where bridges, or "puentes" come in.  This week, in Spain, the weekend started today for a lot of people, under the name of Constitution bridge:  No good reason to work Thursday between two holidays, so we "bridge" from Wednesday through Sunday.  Next year, for example, it should be from Thursday through Monday, because nobody will give up on "the immaculate"...  We are secular.

Does one more person go to church?  I doubt it.  People, whose parents migrated to the cities, can´t wait to get in the car and go to some popular "rural scene", or other.  To the coast, if they can.  The big cities are nicer when many people are gone!  The tension goes down, people seem more relaxed and open, you see more smiles (maybe because they have found a place to park).  I feel better in general because I can walk without "opposition", adjusting and going with the flow.  I think the air is cleaner, too.

If someone studied the differences, they may find that city populations on  puente weekends are the ideal, maximum impact on the planet right now.  I consider leaving everyday and Sunday, my internet and I, will.  Bridge, or no bridge, I swear.

Display:
Although I have only been peeking in to ET lately occasionally, I have noticed you hadn't been around so much, Metavision. Your presence is quite refreshing, so you have been missed...or maybe you have been around and I've picked the wrong conversations to check into.
A-N-Y-W-A-Y...thank you for the diary!! I enjoy hearing about all the various Saints days in Europe!

Cheers!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Wed Dec 6th, 2006 at 03:20:45 PM EST
Thank you, whataboutbob. I´m around everyday. It´s just that you guys give me so much reading, I barely have time to write!

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Wed Dec 6th, 2006 at 05:43:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same-identical system in Italy... has its virtues.  The "bridge" ("ponte") here is a national institution, keeps local-level resorts etc prosperous. Plus patron saints' days give workers an extra break - in addition to the NATIONAL religious holidays - from city/smalltown factories, workshops, shops and offices and assist the formation of "ponti"... plus ensure lots of enjoyable processions with brass bands (municipally subsidized to promote local working-class kids developing an enjoyable ability to play instruments and read sheet-music) + free dance bands + gorgeous BIG fireworks displays.

So I'm not complaining. ;-)

However, the flip side of the "we love our local saints-'n-madonnas" thingy is when the people who live in the Immaculate-Madonna parish say

a) that their madonna is better at healing the sick, consoling the lovesick and fixing family financial problems than the next parish's Sorrowful-Madonna (figures?)... which proves they-the-immaculate-madonnites are generally better-in-every-way than the nextdoor sorrowful-madonnites;

or worse still,

b) that the dastardly bastardy lying thieving people in the next town took advantage of an earthquake/local war/barbarian invasion (choose 1) back in 11-hundred-and-something to steal their "real" miraculous madonna/saint's relics and have ever since refused to give it/them back... so their current madonna/saint-icon is a mere ineffective substitute grr grr grr ... which of course proves the guys 'n gals in the next town are still the same totally dastardly thieving lying cheating bastards they've consistently proved themselves to be for the last 1000 years or so ... so after the guys complaining about these millennial injustices have finished off their current litre of local wine in the local osteria they'll.. darn well go and "tell" 'em so - yet again... physically. :roll:

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Wed Dec 6th, 2006 at 04:51:01 PM EST
I love Italy ;-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Dec 6th, 2006 at 05:32:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great stories, aren´t they?  History would be much shorter if it wasn´t for religion.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Wed Dec 6th, 2006 at 05:40:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who says all this is about religion?  

No need to be a true-believer to be passionately localist?... I've heard those next-town-stole-our-madonna-in-1132 stories complete with grr grr grrrs from guys who I'd say set foot in church exactly three times in their entire lives: christening, wedding and funeral. So I'd say it operates essentially on the same principle as supporting your local soccer team?  Or being a hereditary "red" or a hereditary "black"  or "white" in politics?

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Wed Dec 6th, 2006 at 06:51:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I haven't come up with a good name for it.  I'll have to quote kcurie's sig about myths.

It's that unbearable confusion, IMO, of tradition +religion +culture holding up the current church status, that feels explosive for the 21st century.

The contained local stories are good fun only until I see the connecting ropes to the harmful "dogma" bosses, with connecting ropes to the extreme-right bosses.  The bosses work very hard at maintaining the convenient confusion.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 07:21:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, those little town stories are connected to a very dark, repressive past in many cases.  Here it is colloquially called "España Profunda", almost in an oc-cult sense.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 08:00:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, those little town stories are connected to a very dark, repressive past in many cases.  

The connotations of the kind of traditional-type small-town rivalries I illustrated are, for different-history reasons, a lot more "mixed" and ambiguous in Italy's case - light and shadow.

The "light" is linked to the history of Italian "communalism" = our medieval and renaissance city-states and seafaring republics - many of which were in fact, at least at times, "semi-democratic"... in an era of huge vitality and truly great comparative prosperity for central and northern Italy, with unusually (for Europe) extensive social mobility ... resulting, amongst other things, in our most splendorous-ever intellectual and artistic achievements. And here the Church, I'd say till until around 1600(?) - is perceived as having been a heck of a lot more cynical and corrupt but somehow at the same time far less fanatical and intellectually oppressive than elsewhere, and particularly than in Spain and Portugal - also as the papacy itself had become little more than big fat pawn in the variegated pattern of our communal and dynastic rivalries-strife.. under the subsequent caesarist system of the "signorie" under which so many of our "republics" later fell. So popes and cardinals didn't have to be particularly devout here - some were humanists, some perhaps more pagan-superstitious than conventionally christian? Good thing or bad?  Dunno - kinda mixed? Plus the reach of the church's temporal power - the papal states themselves - was little more here than just one of many warring territorial entities - a kind of large duchy? - in Italy's quarrelsome, murderous, treacherous but intellectually and economically vibrant medieval and renaissance patchwork.

The worst "shadows" = in the age of the "city-state republics", the resulting communal-localist system was so extremely fractious in its competitive rivalries that it ultimately self-destructed! Or at least that's how we tend to "read" our national historical origins-myth: i.e. our lack of national/regional unity and constant inter-communal rivalries and warfare opened the way, on the one hand, to the imposition of autocratic rule and on the other to the devastating presence of invasive foreign armies on Italian soil. So the lesson traditionally drawn here is that fierce communal/localistic rivalries = constant warfare, treachery, division = general political weakness = foreign armies = foreign and/or autocratic domination = oppression, exploitation and impoverishment = decline and backwardness.

...

Here it is colloquially called "España Profunda", almost in an occult sense...

"Italia profonda" too can be distinctly sinister AND occult! - not really christianity's fault either because the worst of it seems to be as much pagan-survival as flipside christian-origin: the worst of our all-too-common black magic practices can be traced back back to roman times or even earlier. Incredible how often superstitious practices including straight black magic crop up here in our most sinister and headline-grabbing national intrigues, murders etc...

Slight difference - again for historical reasons - in our perception of the catholic church in relation to fascism.  Fascism here had anti-clerical origins, allied with the church for opportunist reasons. And our murderous post-WW2 Fascist-heritage far-far-right had an atheistic anticlerical streak in some quarters, in others a strong esoteric-occultist tendency - while the catholics instead tended more to "mediate" with the socialists and communists - result being that catholic leader Aldo Moro got himself killed by Gladio-infiltrated and remote-controlled "red brigades", essentially for being too "left-friendly".  So again, different history = different perceptions.

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 02:21:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the lesson traditionally drawn here is that fierce communal/localistic rivalries = constant warfare, treachery, division = general political weakness = foreign armies = foreign and/or autocratic domination = oppression, exploitation and impoverishment = decline and backwardness.

I think that is a widespread myth among all nationalisms looking back at remembewred periods of hisotircal division and foreign and/or autocratic domination, though with differing weight.

By the way, Umberto Eco, the way I read Baudolino, thinks that it was just these divisions that prevented Barbarossa from truly subduing Northern Italy: it made the territory ungovernable.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 03:53:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hisotircal

I write with many typos, but this double typo is special...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 04:20:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great insights on your history that are new to me. Thanks!

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 03:54:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Maria still the leading name among newborn girls? Here in Hungary, Mária was also leading until after WWII, but no more today (today, TV soap opera names rule...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Dec 6th, 2006 at 05:35:29 PM EST
That´s true here also.  The added Mary has mostly disappeared and there are very few just-Mary names.  Most people still use traditional names, like Celia and Carlota and Victoria, but movie star names or foreign spellings seem to be the fad.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Wed Dec 6th, 2006 at 05:53:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same here. Fads and fashions in names, 95% Italian 5% foreign (Deborah, Nicole...). The "madonna" kind of name - both plain Marys and the Maria-this-and-that (Assunta Concetta Immacolata...) ones - are totally "out" though .... unless of course one is aiming to ensure one's wee kiddy will inherit the largest slice of the estate of a rich ageing childless greataunt of that name?  

And I'd say that to tack "Maria" onto a boy's name these days must mean the parents are paid-up members of Opus Dei?

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Wed Dec 6th, 2006 at 06:25:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Definitely.  It´s hard to get a good feel for the church divisions anymore.  In the dictatorship it was palpable because there were only two:  Jesuits and OD and both supported "the party".  The OD was the new kid on the block and the best schools were jesuit and derivatives.

In my nun school, only jesuits said the daily mass, with maybe a known dominican theologian once in a while...  It was said that Franco kept half his cabinet from jesuit schools and half from the OD!  The so-called "worker priests" were unknown until the 70´s.

Now, I am not sure.  I live surrounded by new-rich areas, heavily infiltrated by OD.  The worst part is their secretiveness.  The biggest church here (an eye-pleasing, brick behemoth I call the penis and testicle cathedral for its shape--the architect is still ROTFL) is the OD´s, but it is denied and never printed on anything.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 07:54:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... and I am in the middle of it...

GHGHGHHGHHG pleasure ghghghhghghghghggh

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Dec 6th, 2006 at 07:21:46 PM EST
I hope you are in the middle of the puente, kcurie.  Tell us more.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 08:01:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Quite boring.. super puente
Actually I will work as always today on my own...

I am getting ready for Christmas... which is gonna be really party-family-stressful...

So relax time.... and do-nothing friday and saturday GHHGHHGHGHH

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 10:40:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bridges work like that in Portugal, and Lisbon is a great place to be when that happens.

Small personal anecdote:
Some years ago such a bridge ocurred on a thursday and most people didn't work friday. Not me because there was work to be done. Now i open the Friday paper, and read an opinion column written by none other than one of my bosses at the time, a man with "political" ambitions. In line with many others like him he ranted about the loss of productivity and the hit on GDP because of "pontes" etc etc.., a theme that is very frequent on papers on those weekends.

Now, this story is interesting to me because i was working, reading his column, and this guy was spending a long weekend in Morocco... That i knew for a fact. Can i spell hypocrit? I guess i can...

He eventually became elected along with Barroso, back then, but left his seat on the parlament to become part  of the national TV board, RTP.

This would lead me to a portuguese institution called "Tacho". But that's for another diary.

by Torres on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 12:27:45 PM EST
It looks like we are three countries so far, all in southern Europe and all using religious dates as national holidays.  Does that tell us something?  (I wonder how it is in Greece.  Deviousdiva?)

I am all for 3-4 day weekends a couple times a year because I don´t want to see a productivity-based life, but this case is really extreme just before the holidays.  Besides mixing church and state, in Spain, a bridge weekend becomes a car-based problem:  Traffic congestion on both trips, deaths and injuries by accident and extra pollution.

What do you think?

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 03:34:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While there are no one-day-separated holidays here, it is standard that when a holiday is on a Tuesday or Thursday, we have "long weekends", and one Saturday before or after is converted to workday. (For schools too.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 04:17:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does Hungary have religious holidays as national holidays?

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 09:07:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course. Christmas (25th and 26th), Easter Monday even under 'communism', Pentecost was added after 1990, and Allsaints more recently. Of these, all but Pentecost have been rather thoroughly secularised (re-paganised?) in its traditions, while the non-traditional-Christian majority just takes the day off on Pentecost.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 04:54:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That´s nothing, DoDo.  Besides those we have Santiago on July 25, Carmen, Almudena in Madrid, Corpus Christi in May?, Pillar on Oct. 12....

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 07:23:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
THat many? How many national holidays and of these how many religious holidays total? When Allsaints was made a holiday here, there was a notion of too many holidays -- and it made it to ten days altogether (half of it religious).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 07:35:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, I must admit I don't know what any of those signify. (And only recently learnt what Pentecost and Allsaints signify.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 07:36:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since you "made me" look it up, these are all holidays in the CITY of Madrid, not counting bridges for 2006:

NATIONAL:
1 Enero:  New Year´s.
14 de Abril, holy friday...Viernes Santo
1 de Mayo, Labor Day, Fiesta del Trabajo
15 de Agosto, Asumption of the virgen, Asunción de la Virgen
12 de Octubre, Nation Day,Fiesta Nacional de España
1 de Noviembre, All Saints,Todos los Santos followed by All Dead??? on Nov. 2.
6 de Diciembre, Constitution Day, Día de la Constitución Española
8 de Diciembre, Immaculate Day, La Inmaculada Concepción
25 de Diciembre, Xmas, Natividad del Señor

NOT SUBSTITUTED: Fiestas nacionales que la Comunidad
Autónoma no ha ejercido la facultad de sustitución:
6 de Enero, Epiphany, 3 WISE MEN bring gifts, Epifanía del Señor
19 March saint Joseph.
20 de Marzo, Monday following the 19th, Lunes siguiente a San José
13 de Abril, holy thursday!!!! Jueves Santo

PROVINCE HOLIDAYS: Fiesta de la Comunidad Autónoma:
2 de Mayo, Community Day, Fiesta de la Comunidad

LOCAL HOLIDAYS: Fiestas locales de la capital de la provincia: Madrid:
15 de Mayo, San Isidro???
9 de Noviembre, Our lady of, Ntra.Sra. de la Almudena

Sorry you don´t work here?

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sat Dec 9th, 2006 at 01:54:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Italy -

National Holidays

1st January NEW YEAR'S DAY

6th January EPIPHANY

17th April  EASTER MONDAY (we go into the countryside to have picnics - kind of spring festival?.. and oddly enough, Easter Friday is NOT a holiday here.. go figure?)

25th April LIBERATION DAY (WW2)

1st May LABOUR DAY

2nd June ITALIAN REPUBLIC DAY (big military parade - but refers back to kicking out the Savoy monarchy by referendum!)

15th August  ASSUMPTION (When Mary was taken up to heaven...)

1st November ALL SAINTS

8th December IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

25th December CHRISTMAS

26th December St. STEPHEN (Boxing day)

...

Plus of course the local patron saint's day - Rome's is St. Peter and Paul, where I live it's St. Pancras Martyr (?)

So we have 11 national + 1 local = 12...

...whereas you have 9 national, 4 "not substituted" whatever that means but I presume still extant ;-) ...
plus 1 provincial and 2 local =  14...!!

(envy)

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Sat Dec 9th, 2006 at 02:27:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, your sum would be 16, and you forgot about All Souls' Day (Day of the Dead), so 17! Regarding non-substituted, I am surprised myself that I could read that Spanish sentence, but it appears to mean facultative national holidays that the province has not chosen to replace with a different holiday on another day.

I never heard of local holidays before, BTW. Though, another peculiarity is in Germany, where some holidays are valid only for Protestants or Catholics (leading to the sillyness of school going on with half the class present).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Dec 9th, 2006 at 07:34:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So 17 days total, respect!

What I found surprising is that Easter and cemetery visits get two days off, Christmas only one. Is there some special reason behind this?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Dec 9th, 2006 at 07:24:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Italy we get two off for Christmas - Christmas Day and Santo Stefano (boxing day) on the 26th.  But it's really 2 1/2 because everything -offices, shops etc etc -shuts down several hours early on Christmas Eve.

Plus of course half the country takes a few days' vacation leave from their annual total to make up the BIG ponte/puente from the 24th through New Year.  This year both the 24th and the 31st are Sundays, meaning that if you don't normally have to work saturdays, it will take only 3 days' vacation leave to get a straight 10-day stretch off work... not bad.    

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Sat Dec 9th, 2006 at 08:47:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd say calling it a "car-based problem" goes to the heart of it!  Soooo...... speaking strictly from an Italian-history-n'-politics viewpoint, I'd say what's wrong with preserving the saints'-days with relative processions/whatever ... means extra personal/human living-time as opposed to bossman's/caesar's worktime -and communal fiestas-of-whatsoever-origin - everything from Viterbo's machine-of-St-Rosa to Siena's Palio - are great collective fun to organise, also get kids into the act feeling they're truly "part of the community" and, in their odd archaic little way, also help people to keep on thinking/feeling in a "community=cooperation=working together NOT for pay =collective creativity" way (yeah I'm ducking under the table as I say this as I can see a furious barrage of objection-brickbats coming!!...;-) )

To solve the cars-problem: so how about we treat it AS SUCH, OK? Why the HECK can't we get/suggest that our local admins. add on extra regional trains for "bridges", ditto special buses to the nearby resort zones (beaches, hill-towns...) all with some kind of festive local tour/food-sampling included in the price!!!???  

Drat it!! - so instead of complaining that saints/fiestas are fostering pollutio, why the heck can't/shouldn't we use these occasions to PROMOTE THE USE OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT - as the "in" way to go where we want to go "en masse" - say using trains/buses instead of cooping ourselves up in energy-wasteful, socially-alienating little private mobile compartments helps us socialize, festivize, enriches our life-experience instead of impoverishing and alienating it plus making the air stink and wrecking our balance of payments????

So in other words, why not make our lovely "bridges" a more "progressive" occasion"???

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 05:16:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
why the heck can't/shouldn't we use these occasions to PROMOTE THE USE OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT - as the "in" way to go where we want to go "en masse" - say using trains/buses

Yea!

Take the Alaris to Valencia! Or the Talgo to Málaga! Or, in a few years,  the AVE to both and other destinations!

(You knew I'd say that ;-))

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 05:35:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can tell you that traffic was horrible on Lisbons exits last night, and yes, it is a "car based problem". So much that the police traffic brigade almost always has extra measures prepared for such occasions.

A suggestion to end bridges was made some time ago, by deslocation the day off from the official day to the next friday or previous monday. As a sort of compensation it was also suggested that when such days happen on a weekend they could be dilocated for friday or monday, also.

This turned out to be unpopular, especially because of religious holidays. I guess people don't care of they celebrate the Republic on the 6th of october instead of the 5th. But Xmas on the 26 or Mardi Gras on a monday? Not so cool...

by Torres on Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 09:55:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So long I am in Japan, I am forgetting European bridged holidays. Once I was in almeria in the beginning of September, there was indeed a festival with a religious backgorund.

In Japan, holidays are pretty civil, no saints.

Today I caught two articles on Spain. They are not related to the holiday's theme, but generated a deal of curiosity nevertheless.

Spanish children among the most obese

One in three Spanish children is overweight, one of the worst records in Europe, a conference in Madrid was told on Tuesday.

Spain was one of nine countries to take part in a European Commission-funded study into ways to tackle obesity and emerged with more fat youngsters than any other country in the group.

Only England came anywhere near Spain in the sample with about a quarter of youngsters overweight.

"The amount of obese children in Spain is high and rising rapidly," said professor Erik Millstone of the University of Sussex, who co-ordinated the survey across the countries.

Back in the 1980s, only around 15 percent of Spanish children were overweight.

Is this what many holidays does to you?

The other article is from the right-wing blogosphere. It is a piece of usual scare for immigrants, but I wonder how this is viewed in Spain itself.

Europe's Future

[Thus] far in 2006, 30,000 "boat people" have landed on Canary Island beaches--already six times last year's tally. The great majority come from Senegal. There are also Malians and Mauritanians, Gambians and Guineans, Congolese and Cameroonians, and others whom Spaniards don't usually think of as their neighbors, but who now consider Europe just a hop, skip, and a jump away. There are occasional boats full of Chinese and Bangladeshis, too. Spain isn't the only destination for boats pouring out of other continents. The Italian islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria have received well over 10,000 boat people this year. Migrants from East Africa, Pakistan, and India are beaching boats launched in Libya on the shores of Malta and Greece. And boats are not the only way to bust into the E.U. - there are also land routes through Eastern Europe, and the majority of immigrants to Europe still get there by flying in as tourists or students and then overstaying their visas.

But Spaniards have started to note that, in contrast to previous waves, these migrants seem to be coming to, not through, their country. Spain, which a decade ago thought it had an emigration problem, now finds itself the top immigrant destination on the entire continent. Its population has jumped to 44 million people, thanks to almost 4 million new immigrants. Slowly, over decades, a lot of European countries have reached the point where about 10 percent of their population is of immigrant background. Spain is now about 10 percent first-generation immigrant, and this has happened overnight. Much of the present migration is to cities. Foreigners make up 19 percent of the population (and 28 percent of the workforce) in Madrid. The Valencia region is 14 percent foreign-born. The Raval area of central Barcelona, where immigrants were exotic up until the early 1990s, is now a "majority minority" neighborhood.

by das monde on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 10:45:04 PM EST
Imagine that!  No christian saints in Japan?

Obesity (slow news day in SA?) is a problem in general and in some areas, like Andalucía seems worse.  The cause is probably the same as anywhere:  2 working parents stressed out and too many processed foods.

Immigration is one of the biggest concerns here, besides a favorite theme for the right-wingers.  It is a humanitarian problem, first of all, because of the suffering and deaths it causes.  The government is trying to reach agreements with the source countries, but it is barely slowing down.

The need is too great, there are trafficking mafias involved, and the economic cost is negative at first:
Receiving, health care, housing and settling or repatriating in a responsible way.  Once here, it is very difficult for them because even when they find jobs, they are exploited, but at least there are dozens of NGO´s helping out.  No easy solutions.

 

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 01:30:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding the immigrants, what is anticipated for next year?

Looking generally, there are so many massive changes are occuring fast - people are moving globally, satisfy their instincts  and economical imperatives in their earnest. Little wonder, when about half of EU tomato supply is produced in a few provinces in Spain, there is a lot of picking job to anyone wishing.

Can we control our "urge" for globalization and scale economy? Can the fast changes accelarate ever faster? Will share numbers and masses rule the world? Or will they annihilate each other, stumbling upon a trivial environmental restriction? Aren't we living in the proverbial interesting times?

by das monde on Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 04:28:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don´t know of any projections, but I fear it will not stop, since the needs in Africa are so hard to fathom, that thousands of young people, children, pregnant women... are willing to risk death for months, to reach Europe.  The Canary Islands and the south coast are the closest destinations.

There are many central Europeans coming through the Pyrenees in bus loads also, which seems like a blind point.  The government has no intention of using forceful policies, obviously, and the right-wing likes to name it "the call-effect".

The immigrants´ contribution to the job market, the economy and employment taxes are very positive for the country.

As to the big life questions...

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 09:30:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A big difference I noticed when I moved over to Europe from the US, how many more religious holidays there are! But interestingly, the Europeans (or at least the Swiss) don't wear their religion on their sleeve so much as Americans do...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 07:12:18 AM EST


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