a wandering woman writes

Sunday, September 11, 2005

La Virgen de No Sé Qué

I'm notorious for attributing every Spanish work holiday, of which there are many, almost all in celebration of some long forgotten Catholic feast no one can explain to me, to La Virgen de No Sé Qué - the Virgin of I Don't Know What. You must understand, there is a virgin of the snows, and a virgin of solitude and a virgin of pain and ...the list is endless, and the kneesocked Catholic schoolgirl in me finds this amusing, in what is now not a religious country.

But this week even I know what we are celebrating!

We're in fiestas! My favorite 2 weeks of the Salmantino year have arrived. In celebration of Salamanca's patron Virgin, the Virgin of the Valley (Virgen de la Vega) we're enjoying 2 weeks of concerts, street performances, fireworks, street food, sporting events..... you name it, the mayor's imported it. Toga toting Romans have invaded the lot next to my house for a Roman Market (complete with stands selling Roman falafal and Roman crepes...hmmm..), and 57 casetas line eight of the plazas in town - each set up by a different Salamanca bar, making "going for pinchos" as easy as setting out the front door in any direction - and walking - and eating - and walking - and eating....

The woman above took part in the procession that kicked off the festivities last Wednesday evening. Snaking their way across the Roman Bridge and up the hill through Plaza Juan XXIII, hundreds of people (members of traditional charro (the traditional dress/dance/music of Salamanca) groups, politicians, etc.) danced, played castanets and carried both the Virgin and basketsful of flowers to the new cathedral, where the floral offerings were put on display.

More pictures below. My personal favorite: the charro grooving with the castanets, behind the musicians.

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  • I like the way you see our Virgins.
    In Catalonia it has become very popular to put girls the names of local virgins, in such a way that you can learn the village she is from: Brugués: from Gavà; Vinyet from Sitges and so on.

    By Blogger Mestre, at 11:04 PM  

  • One of the islands we can see from our house is called Virgin Gorda 'the fat virgin', and looks like a well fed woman floating on her back in the water. We need a festival for Virgin Gorda - a celebration of all things indulgent, from too much wine and chocolate, to too much floating around in tropical waters...

    By Blogger hobbes, at 11:40 PM  

  • Oh, you made me drool with nostalgy from my city ¡¡¡ :)

    By Anonymous Alicia, at 4:30 PM  

  • That sounds wonderful! Love the pictures.

    By Blogger melusina, at 9:11 PM  

  • Mestre, I was raised Catholic, but this focus on the Virgin of this and the Virgin of that strikes me as uniquely Spanish - or Mediterranean, maybe. There was a running joke in the part of New England where I grew about the Portuguese and Italian straight-off-the boat grandmas with a statue of the virgin in a giant scallop shell in the back yard - the family shrine. I dated a guy whose grandmother's yard rivalled the claustro of las Dueñas here in Salamanca, basically....Spain makes me think of those Portuguese grandmas. :)

    BTW, menos mal - being given one of those Virgin names, they're gorgeous - I love Vinyet..

    As for the Fat Virgin fiesta, I'm in, Hobbes...

    Alicia - I want you to know I agonized over that post, afraid I might not have the story straight..and you'd know! What a drag that you have to leave right before all the fun starts.
    (I loved your post today by the way.)

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 10:41 PM  

  • I love your photos here,as always. You are livin' the life, girl. I am sure that you are bringing as much as you are getting though! Take care. By the way, have you started the classes to play the castanets yet?

    By Blogger Terri, at 10:12 PM  

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