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Spanish Secrets: O Come All Ye Faithful

Craig Briggs says that in Galicia a number of other Christian festivals celebrated throughout the year are considered to be just as important as Christmas. "Here at least, those cleverly manipulative marketing men have to play second fiddle to Jesus Christ.''

We woke on Saturday morning to be greeted by a covering of snow on the surrounding hills. The heaviest falls were on the northern slopes, where open fields took on the appearance of angular slices of thick royal icing. To the east and west, the landscape resembled a light sprinkling of icing sugar atop seasonal mince pies.

Snow here, in Spain’s most north westerly province, is not an uncommon sight at this time of year. During our first year we even had a light covering in the garden: it lasted all of twenty minutes. With this one exception, today’s covering was the closest snowfall to us in over three and a half years.

The day was overcast and grey. It now looked more likely to rain than it did to snow. After lunch we drove up into the mountains. Once there the cloud cover, as if by magic, dispersed. It left small fluffy-white clouds floating across the cool blue sky. They cast dark shadows, rolling and dipping over the mountains like a swarm of hungry locusts.

The late afternoon sunlight reflected off the frosty particles, creating a panorama of bright white reflections: Nature's Christmas illuminations. For all mankind’s ingenuity; our scientific advancements, our manipulation of the environment and its resources, this was an unsurpassable visual gift.

Did I mention gift?

Whilst listening to BBC radio last week, through the miracle of internet streaming, we were informed by the programme's presenter, that there were only twenty nine shopping days remaining until Christmas. I wonder if God realised that the countdown to celebrate his only son’s birthday, would be reflected in the number of visits one can make to the supermarket?

Living in the Galician countryside, one can easily be excused for thinking that the 25th of December is simply another day in the calendar year.

On returning from our mountain excursion we visited the nearby town of Monforte de Lemos. Like any other Saturday afternoon throughout the year, the town was quiet and the shops closed.

We reflected on what our previous home town in Yorkshire, England would be like at this same time: probably very similar to many other towns and cities throughout the world.

Streets crowded with shoppers, shops brimming with gift ideas and cash-tills ringing paradoxically in unison to the background melody of, “O Come All Ye Faithful”.

Christmas in the Galician countryside is still a religious festival. It’s just one of the many Christian fiestas throughout the year. All are times of celebration: a break from the routine of work. Generations happily mix together, partying in the streets. Most cities, towns, villages and hamlets have their own fiesta. Individually these fiestas are just as important to them as Christmas.

Here at least, those cleverly manipulative marketing men have to play second fiddle to Jesus Christ.

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craigandmel@msn.com

Copyright © 2005 Craig Briggs

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