La vida es un Carnaval... ¡Disfrútala! – Life is a carnival, enjoy it!
Can you believe that February is over already?! It seems to have flown by. It’s been a busy month, beginning with a trip to The House of Lords in London with SRP President Jim to attend a reception for Nuclear Week in Parliament. The weather was great, so it made for a lovely afternoon on the side of the Thames, meeting people from all over the industry. We might have so more exciting news resulting from this event, but it’s hush hush for now, so watch this space for further updates!
Then I was back in London for an in-person Events Committee meeting. It was great to see everyone after what feels like forever, and a lot of excellent ideas for the conference in Aberdeen were discussed. Not long to go now!
Back in Spain, February has been the month of Carnival or Carnaval. The date of Carnaval changes every year as it’s dependant on Easter, but it always takes place in the week leading up to the 40 days before Easter Sunday. We don’t have Pancake Day in Spain, but we do have “Fat Thursday” which marks start of Carnaval, and ends on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. The word Carnival/Carnaval comes from the Latin phrase “carne levare” or “to remove/take away meat” as many people would give up meat for Lent, and it’s the final festivity before the more traditionally austere 40 days of Lent.
It's a whole week of festivities, beginning with the arrival of the Carnaval King/Queen, followed by parades throughout towns and cities of Spain. In Toledo, each neighbourhood has its own local parade, with the children of the local schools, and then on the Saturday of that week, there’s the big city parade. Luckily our local neighbourhood parade passes down our street, so we get to watch it from the comfort of our terrace. It’s also very usual to run into princesses and dragons and Spidermen on the street as all the children (and a lot of adults…) dress up all week (maybe I should have recruited some for the School’s Show in Aberdeen!).
Carnival comes to an end with the curious tradition of “Entierro de la Sardina” – the Burial of the Sardine, the day before Lent begins. This is another parade, but a parody of a funeral, in which a large model of a paper mâché sardine is paraded through the city by mourners down to the river Tajo and set alight. Burned to symbolically mark the farewell to life’s pleasures, and the decadence of carnival, and mark the arrival of Lent. It’s a rather surreal spectacle for a tourist! It’s not all doom and gloom though, the night usually ends with fireworks and a lovely party atmosphere.
So, just like that, we enter March. Hopefully the warmer days of spring are coming, and if you are observing Lent this year, may it be a blessed one.