A heap of holidays

We can’t complain about holidays, even when they take us by surprise, as happened on our recent trip to Denmark. That holiday Thursday was followed by good Friday, which we expected, then the weekend, including Easter, also expected, and then Easter Monday, which we didn’t expect. That’s a good five-day run, which seems like it would be able to hold us for a while.

But wait: the next Monday was a holiday, too, at least in the Comunitat Valenciana. The Monday after Easter Monday found us celebrating Sant Vicent Ferrer (1350-1419), patron saint of Valencia. So the week leading up to Easter had three work days, followed by a four-day week, then another four-day week.

Sant Vicent Ferrer

If you’re thinking that this trend can’t possibly continue, prepare to be proven wrong. May 1, the following Monday, is a holiday here, and in a large part of the rest of the world. May Day, Labour Day, or International Workers’ Day–whatever you call it, it results in another four-day work week.

Blue is countries celebrating Labour Day on or near May 1, light blue has another holiday on May 1. Red is no Labour day on any day, light red has Labour Day on some other date.

After four shortened (we could say foreshortened) weeks, we could get used to this. But for me, the only holiday I’m dreaming of is the end of our home school days, and we’ve still got about four weeks of those left. When that day comes, watch for dancing in the streets.

Of the many ways to get to know a country, taking a look at what they’ve agreed to celebrate can be interesting. For us, the calendar of holidays is divided into three sections: “festivos” observed everywhere in Spain, then those celebrated in the Comunitat Valenciana (this province), and then a few that are celebrated just in various capitals of provinces. (You’ll do fine with the dates in Castellano; I’ll include literal translations for the descriptions.)

Here are the festivos for all of Spain:

  • 6 de enero, Epifanía del Señor (Epiphany of the Lord)
  • 14 de abril, Viernes Santo (Holy Friday)
  • 1 de mayo, Día del Trabajo (Day of Work)
  • 15 de agosto, Asunción de la Virgen (Assumption of the Virgin)
  • 12 de octubre, Día de la Hispanidad (Day of Spanishness)
  • 1 de noviembre, Todos los Santos (All the Saints)
  • 6 de diciembre, Día de la Constitución (Day of the Constitution)
  • 8 de diciembre, la Inmaculada Concepción (the Immaculate Conception)
  • 25 de diciembre, Navidad (Nativity)

Geese wearing Christmas decorations in the Epiphany parade in Madrid

The Comunitat Valenciana adds these festivos dates:

  • 19 de marzo, día de San José (Day of Saint Joseph)
  • 13 de abril, Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday)
  • 17 de abril, Lunes de Pascua (Monday of Easter)
  • 9 de octubre, Día de la Comunitat Valenciana (Day of the Valencian Community)

And in las capitales de provincia (Capitals of provinces), the following days are also celebrated:

  • in Valencia: 22 de enero, San Vicente Mártir. trasladado al 17 de marzo (Saint Vincent, Martyr, moved to the 17th of March (to join the fun of Las Fallas)) y 24 de abril, San Vicente Ferrer (Saint Vincent Ferrer)
  •  in Castelló: 20 de marzo, Fiesta de la Magdalena (party of the Magdalen) y 29 de junio, San Pedro (Saint Peter)
  • in Alicante: 5 de mayo, Santa Faz (Holy Face) y 24 de junio, Fogueres de Sant Joan (Bonfires of Saint John)

San Vicente Mártir, tortured in Valencia in 303

As you can see, there’s a lot going on. It has happened often that we’ve heard fireworks and wondered about the cause. We should probably keep this calendar as a ready reference for just such occasions.

The other thing I notice about this list is that Las Fallas is not mentioned at all by name, and is only represented by 19 March, Day of St. Joseph. Since Las Fallas is a city-wide party that spreads over weeks, with streets closed for at least four days to make space for marching bands, costumes, parades, and the cooking of huge pans of paella (the bonfires happen at night, so they don’t technically require a day off), it highlights the great difference between what appears officially on the calendar, and what’s happening in reality on the ground. If Las Fallas, the party that never ends, doesn’t show up on the calendar of festivos, it makes me wonder if there are other holidays that appear very small and tidy on the calendar while having a much bigger presence in people’s lives.

I’m also curious to hear about your experiences. Are there holidays that your country celebrates that are unusual?

[Images: holavalencia.net, Wikipedia, news.xinhuanet.com, Wikipedia]

 

 

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