Churches in Britain of the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox denominations are usually dedicated to one of the saints, technically the patron saint of that parish. All saints have their feast day and on the day of their patron saint, there will be a special act of worship, usually a Eucharist. And that's it. In Spain, on the other hand the village church is the church for all the people in the village. In other words the Saint is patron not just of the church, but of the entire village. His or her feast day is celebrated with enthusiasm by the entire village.
Tuesday 13th June is la fiesta (the feast day) of San Antonio de Padua, to whom our church is dedicated. The celebrations are spread over a number of days, and a fairground is set up for the duration. There is a caseta, a huge marquee to host bands, concerts and the nightly disco. On the final day (Tuesday) there is a romeria which is a combination of pilgrimage, picnic and piss-up (Pardon my French). Out come the fiesta outfits - colorful dresses that you also see in flamenco for the girls and women, gleaming white, frilled shirts for the men, teamed with tight black trousers, cummerbund and wide-brimmed, black hats for the boys and men. Horses groomed and dressed to within an inch of their lives provide the transport for many, whilst others are aboard carriages drawn by horses, mules or oxen. The procession begins with Mass in the church and then makes its slow, noisy way right through the village and on to a suitable piece of land out in the local countryside. Eventually everyone returns to the village where an extravagant firework display closes the fiesta for another year.
All very exciting and enjoyable, except for the one fly in the ointment for us oldies; the nightly discos kick off at midnight and keep right on until six o'clock in the morning. There are no side panels on the caseta and so the sound radiates outwards and then ricochets around the surrounding hills. Audible everywhere is the intrusive, insistent thump of the sound system's bass note.
This year, the end of fiesta also marks our last night in the apartment which has been our home for the last eight and a half years. The removal company arrives at eight o'clock on Wednesday morning and we move into the hotel for the final days of the dream we have been so fortunate to live.