Ilivetolearn's Blog

May 8, 2006

May’s holidays

Filed under: Spain — ilivetolearn @ 10:24 am

May 2nd, a holiday in Madrid province that is one of the few not associated with a saint’s day, commemorates an event in 1808 when Madrileños arose in a vain attempt to rout the French, who ended up installing Napoleon’s brother on the throne for 12 yrs. As a local columnist wrote, “a bunch of suicidal Madrid patriots, armed only with knives, stood up to…the elite killers of Napoleon’s army, with the aim of overthrowing an enlightened king, a foreigner like all kings, and putting in his place an undesirable and felonious aborigine.” So a spectacular defeat is memorialized with a day off from work and school. The events of the 2nd and the 3rd (when French soldiers shot all the major instigators) are the subjects of two of Goya’s most famous paintings.

Another day off specific to Madrid is the 15th, the day of San Isidro. It’s traditional for Madrileños to dress up as majas or chulos and make pilgrimages to San Isidro’s meadow to have picnics and partake of the miraculous water from the spring there, said to have brought Prince Felipe (later crowned Philip the 2nd) through a childhood plagued by smallpox and epileptic seizures. We’ll be celebrating by going off to Valencia (since it is the last long weekend of the year)…but not to worry: in true Madrid style, the festival of the patron saint goes on for at least ten days so we won’t miss it all.


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