Sunday, January 07, 2018

The end of the holidays!

The cake was the most important part.

Celebrations of religious festivals, even when the religious element seems to be more of an historical afterthought than the actual basis for the festivity, seem to be only to be justified in terms of what you can eat and drink to make the day(s) special.  And presents of course.

In Britain we do not take the Festival of the Kings quite as seriously as they do in Catalonia.  Kings is very much part of the Christmas Season and I suppose part of the reason why the Sales do not really get started until after parents have made all of their purchases for Kings.

Kings is basically for kids.  There are elaborate processions to welcome the Kings when they come into a town or city, and then there are a series of floats all of which have people on them throwing sweets at the young people who lines the streets to greet them.

In Barcelona the Kings come into the city by sea and then make a triumphant progress into the centre.  We missed the procession on the day before Kings in Terrassa and instead came for the lunch in which the kids (and as it turned out, we too) got presents.

But the highlight of the meal is the cake.  This is a circular cake with a hole in the middle, with the filling being of cream and, most importantly, little things hidden inside the filling.  The official name of this cake is the Tortell de Reis or the King’s Tart, and ours was a magnificent affair with a filling divided into cream and chocolate and hidden inside the filling, somewhere, two inedible things: a porcelain broad bean and a little figure of a king.

The cake is cut up so that everyone gets a piece and then they chomp down.  Carefully!  I did and was ‘rewarded’ by finding a cream covered broad bean.  The significance of that discovery is that you have to buy the cake for the next year!  The person who gets the king figure is rewarded with the golden paper crown that is set in the hollow centre of the cake and is made King of the feast.

If you want more information about the Catalan customs at Christmas then an extensive illustrated explanation may be found at

And I assured you that these are not obscure folk customs, they are part of the everyday life of everyone who lives here!  And if you do read through it all, then I can assure you that the Belen on the stairs by the entrance to our house did have a caganer discretely squatting at the side of the stable!

With the end of that meal, I consider the Christmas Season well and truly over, but we will not be taking down all the Christmas decorations.

As you know, Catalonia and Spain are in the grips of the worst political crisis to have rocked Spain since the Dictatorship of Franco.  The Catalan referendum about independence was blighted by astonishing violence from the police forces of the Spanish national government preventing peaceful people from trying to cast their votes.  Our Catalan President and a slew of political leaders have been forced into exile or have been imprisoned.  The government of Catalonia has been disbanded and the functions of government have been taken over by PP, the minority right wing governing party of Spain whose actual popular mandate in the last election was a measly 4 seats out of 135, their percentage of the popular vote 4.2%!

Political corruption in Spain is rife.  PP is the most corrupt political party in western Europe and hundreds of its members, including all past treasurers of the party, having been accused of corruption or are in the process of being tried or are waiting to be sentenced.  This is the political slime that is deciding the future of our country!

To show solidarity with the imprisoned Catalan politicians twists of yellow ribbon are being worn.  Indeed wearing anything of the colour yellow is now considered something of a political statement by the minority right wing government of Spain.  I wear a yellow ribbon on my shirt at all times and have recently purchased a yellow scarf.  Those of you who know me, know that I never wear scarves, so this recent (and difficult) purchase shows considerable dedication!

Although the national minority government maintains that there is separation between the executive and the judiciary, too many recent examples of unequal treatment and opportunism make such an assertion difficult to believe.  The national minority government also maintains that there are no political prisoners in Spain and that the political leaders have been detained on criminal charges not political ones.  I am reminded of some of the policies of Queen Elizabeth the First who always imprisoned Roman Catholics for acts of treason, never merely because of their religion, that was always a strange coincidence!

While our political leaders are in prison we will keep our Christmas tree up.  It is not decorated in the usual festive manner, but has a whole series of yellow ribbons on the branches and even the lights are yellowish!  It will stay up until Spain sees reason and releases the political prisoners.
These early January days are a low level prologue to the political activity that will take place later in the month, when the new delegates to a new Catalan parliament will take their places.  The election, called by Rajoy, the leader of the minority right wing PP (with a mandate of 4.2% in the popular vote in Catalonia remember) in the hope that the independence parties would lose their majority.  Well they haven’t - but Rajoy and his disgusting collection of corruption monkeys, PP, lost 7 of their 11 seats.

So, if the majority of the elected representatives vote for independence Rajoy has already said that he will ignore the democratic wishes of the Catalan parliament and keep Article 155 in place which allows his 4.2% mandate to give him the right to govern Catalonia.  And don’t get me started on the way that the Spanish Senate is packed with PP fodder!

So, later in the month, all the rites and delights of Christmas are going to be well and truly forgotten as the political cut and thrust lurches back into action.

To find more information about what happened in the last Catalan elections in December, 2017, go to

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