Llevar huevos a las clarisas
Meanwhile, I'll share my latest lesson in Spanish traditions.
Saturday was a glorious day, summer-like...with skies that blue only Spain can produce. Good thing, too. The reception was held in a enormous garden, with a tent for dinner and dancing after a long afternoon of outdoor drinks, appetizers and lawns throroughly aerated by the heels of the female guests.
As I chatted, I kept hearing strange comments I didn't quite understand --"Ah, she (the bride) brought eggs to the Clarisas, didn't she?" "The Clarisas liked their eggs!" Finally the comment hit me straight on, in a conversation in which I was involved, and I got my explanation.
The Clarisas are the nuns of the order of Saint Clare - Poor Clares, we call them back in New England - and apparently, Spanish brides have been bringing them eggs to assure good weather on wedding days for centuries. Seems the nuns need the eggs for their sweets-making or to distribute to the poor. In return for a dozen or two or three, they generously pray for (and usually receive, so I hear) good weather from their founder, Saint Clare.
Feeding my curiousity on this newly discovered egg-nun-weather connection, I ran across this fairly scholarly study of the whole matter (in Spanish).
Apparently a rainy wedding day was considered a curse a few centuries ago. Doomed to cry the rest of her disgraced life if she married on a rainy day, the bride took matters in her own hands and offered a dozen eggs to the local order of Saint Clara. For a clear day, (tiempo claro) the bride brought eggs with their claras (or whites) to the nuns of Saint Clara. Logical enough, eh?
The article reports the results of a survey carried out in 1993 in which Spain's 60 convents dedicated to Santa Clara were asked to respond to a series of questions - questions about eggs and rain and brides. All but 3 of the convents that responded to the survey reported a busy egg for sun business The nuns reported that they did not in fact have a special eggs for weather prayer, but that they appreciated the eggs, and merely asked Saint Clare to consider the happiness and loyalty of the marrying couple.
Most of the convents reported not likely the recent extension of the egg offering tradition to more modern "wants", like exam results, job offers, vacation weather and even a passing grade on the driver's license practical exam.
I was intrigued at the wedding, in any case. The bride assures me she did not in fact give eggs to the local nuns of Saint Clara.
But I'm betting someone did. While Carmen was explaining the mystery of the egg comments to me, a unidentified woman approached and assured us, with an air of absolute confidence, that the local Poor Clares do not, in fact, want any more eggs.
"They won't take eggs!, she said. "Now they only want money."
In person or online.
Labels: on living in Spain