Just like buses …

Costa Levante News - - ABOUT TOWN - By Irena Bodnarec

You wait for ages then two come at once. This week we have, or will have had, not one but two bank hol­i­days in the space of a week!

On Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 9 it was a re­gional hol­i­day “Día de la Co­mu­nidad Va­len­ciana” or The Day of the Va­len­cian Com­mu­nity. It marks the an­niver­sary of the cap­ture of the city of Va­len­cia by King James I from the Moors, back in 1238, which at the time was an in­de­pen­dent king­dom. It did not be­come part of Spain un­til 1707! It was not even of­fi­cially recog­nised and cel­e­brated un­til 1976, when the Va­len­cian Re­gional Gov­ern­ment de­creed it a Bank Hol­i­day – the year af­ter Franco died. Many towns, in­clud­ing Benidorm marked the oc­ca­sion. Mem­bers of the coun­cil, po­lice rep­re­sen­ta­tives and dig­ni­taries all at­tended a cer­e­mony up at the Mi­rador in the Old Town.

The two fi­esta queens along with their maids of hon­ours… and there are lots of them, turned out in their for­mal dresses and sashes, hair per­fectly coif­fured. Most of these lit­tle girls will have been at the hair salon from first thing in the morn­ing get­ting ready. Al­though it’s a great hon­our it is also ex­tremely costly for the par­ents, with a sin­gle dress cost­ing sev­eral hun­dred eu­ros and they need more than one! I’m sure that there is a se­cret sigh of relief from new par­ents, well fa­thers for sure, when they dis­cover it’s a boy. Any fi­esta or oc­ca­sion and they have to be there, ob­vi­ously along with their par­ents in tow.

There are es­pe­cially plenty of flower cer­e­monies, walk­ing up to the Mi­rador clutch­ing bou­quets which are then placed around the church doors – I bet they have to pay for those too… but at least the lo­cal florists are happy and kept in busi­ness.

To mark the be­gin­ning of the event, 3 flags were raised – Span­ish, Va­len­cian and Euro­pean to the Span­ish na­tional an­them be­ing played by the Mu­si­cal Union of Benidorm, with all the po­lice rep­re­sen­ta­tives salut­ing. There were then the for­mal­i­ties – speeches by var­i­ous in­vited guests and the Mayor, ad­vo­cat­ing the use of the lo­cal lan­guage – Va­len­ciano. I’m all for up­hold­ing tra­di­tion, but my per­sonal opin­ion on this one is that I am not par­tic­u­larly in favour. Fine at home but for many par­ents, not only Bri­tish but all for­eign­ers that send chil­dren to schools in this re­gion, it’s a night­mare. I even know Span­ish mums that aren’t in favour of classes be­ing taught in Va­len­ciano and last year there were many protests about the new rul­ing. Great if you plan on stay­ing to live and work within the Va­len­cian com­mu­nity, but travel to Madrid and it’s point­less – no one will un­der­stand you. Teach it as a sec­ond lan­guage in schools as you would English or Ital­ian but not core sub­jects.

The sec­ond Bank Hol­i­day is to­mor­row, Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 12 and this is a Na­tional Hol­i­day across the en­tire coun­try – “Día de la His­panidad”, the Na­tional Day of Spain. It com­mem­o­rates the an­niver­sary of Christo­pher Colum­bus’s first ar­rival in the Amer­i­cas and also widely cel­e­brated through­out the Amer­i­cas, where it is known as Colum­bus Day in the United States. Again, this was also a late joiner, not be­ing of­fi­cially recog­nised as a na­tional hol­i­day un­til 1981. In Madrid there will be a huge mil­i­tary pa­rade, presided over King Felipe and Queen Letizia, which will be tele­vised by all the na­tional tele­vi­sion sta­tions.

The vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple just see it as an ex­tra day off work, to re­lax, eat and drink, which is what bank hol­i­days are all about. In the UK they are usu­ally moved to a Mon­day, for ex­am­ple May Day, also known as Work­ers’ Day or Labour Day ac­tu­ally falls on May 1st, but in the UK will take place on the first Mon­day in May, which next year will fall on May 6th. But con­sid­er­ing that we are well into Oc­to­ber, we have been re­ally for­tu­nate with the weather, al­though it is on the change now. Evenings are get­ting chill­ier and darker – it’s pitch dark by 8pm now and still dark at 7am! An­other cou­ple of weeks and clocks will go back mark­ing the of­fi­cial end of sum­mer­time. But hav­ing said that, there are still plenty sun­bathing on the beaches and even, brace your­selves, swim­ming! My pool ther­mome­ter is now read­ing a chilly 21 de­grees – my limit is 28 but I can hear the Nor­we­gian neigh­bours two doors down still jump­ing in. To them it’s warm, they’re hearty Nordics who are used to the cold not like us wimps – well us South­ern­ers any­way, the North­ern lots are a lit­tle braver I think.

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