Feast Days, Spanish Style

Linda Ainsworth

Patronal Festival

With our Patronal Festival in the offing, I was considering how different our celebrations are from those in Spanish towns.

Each town has its own patron saint, and in most, feast-day bunting is put up in the streets (by the ajuntament, the town council, usually).

Clitheroe has municipal bunting, but for tourist purposes, I’m told, to cheer the place up a bit.

How it’s done in Spain

People in Spanish towns hang what seem to be tea towels with the saint’s picture on in their windows or from their balconies (to be fair, some people display Catalan or Spanish flags instead).

The feast day itself is celebrated with a cross between a street party and a dance-cum-procession. This often involves dressing up – either as someone/something, or in a club uniform or national dress or in best clothes with a sparkly sash.

There’s music, and even if it’s simply a small band of drummers, it’s still thrilling.

The drummers before the procession starts.

Although there’s some organized group at the core, everyone in the town can join in, tagging on to the end of the procession or going to the ‘Bal de Nit’ (better than it sounds in English) where supper is served in the main square, or by gathering by the beach for the bonfire and fireworks.

Fireworks on the beach

I suppose the main difficulties in emulating this sort of thing in Clitheroe is firstly the weather (although whatever happened to ‘in the hall if wet’? – maybe not the bonfire and fireworks, though!) but also a reluctance to take our celebrations out of the church and into the community in case – what?

We used to do this

Remember Whit Walks? – and some places still do – Croston’s Coffee Day, for example, where even if they don’t walk in the procession, most people join in by watching it and getting together afterwards.

It may be that Clitheroe’s size militates against this kind of inclusive celebration, but Clitheroe is set to get bigger and bigger.

How are we going to respond?

Linda Ainsworth

About Linda Ainsworth

Pearl's a singer, but Linda's a writer, And they say that she once won a competition And had a short story broadcast on Woman's Hour. She helps out at St MM's church on the PCC And with Holy Communion for the Sick and Housebound. She doesn't come from round here.

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