Thursday, December 6, 2007

It's another bank holiday in Spain! This one's Constitution Day...


...or el Día de la Constitución Española. That's right, only a few weeks before the Christmas, New Year and Reyes holiday season, Spain has yet another holiday.
.
This is one of the few holidays in Spain with completely secular roots. It commemorates the anniversary of the national referendum held on 6 December 1978, in which 88% of Spanish voters approved the constitution which had been passed by parliament on 31 October of that same year. Although the constitution actually came into effect on 29 December 1978, the date of the referendum was established as a national holiday in 1983. Perhaps this was because it was one of the crowning moments in the period from 1975 to 1978, referred to as The Transition, during which Spain was converted from a fascist dictatorship to a parliamentary monarchy.
.
This year's anniversary is the 29th. I don't know if there are any special plans for 2008's nice round 30th anniversary, but for the even-numbered 25th a special web site was designed that includes an official English translation of the constitution. Click here to read it.
.
For a holiday that marks such a notable event in the country's history, it's not a something the Spanish people seem to celebrate very much. Sure, there are formal events participated in by politicians, royalty and celebrities. But on the street, there is not much that I can see to mark the occassion other than special little flags flying from city buses. (Except, here in Barcelona the little flags are Catalan and not Spanish. Go figure.) For most people, it's just a day off work.
.
Well, perhaps I should say, a "few days" off work, because Constitution Day is followed by another national holiday on 8 December. That one is Immaculate Conception (La Inmaculada Concepción), which, of course, refers to the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary. This particular representation of Mary was designated the "patron virgin" of Spain in 1760, so it's a holiday with a longer history than Constitution Day. However, from what I can tell, it doesn't seem to have much meaning to most Spaniards either. As a matter of fact, when I ask locals if they know what the holiday is, most say something equivalent to, "I think it's some religious holiday."
.
In other words, "Who cares?! I'm just glad it's a long weekend!"
.
Amen to that.
.
Hasta luego amig@s,
.
Carloz

No comments: