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Church and State



     Catholic Spain? The day of the three kings, Epiphany, is January 6. It celebrates the respect for children shown by wise men all around the world.
     In the past, Spain celebrated it in a grand way, with three kings, sometimes on camels, visiting hospitals and orphanages to bring joy to children. There was little of that this year. However, women volunteers throughout Spain visited women's jails with the children of the inmates, who saw their mothers and received gifts. It was profoundly moving. Otherwise it was just a day for giving children toys, many of them mechanical or electronic as the result of a big commercial campaign.
     However, the big news of the day was the children's lottery, in which at a public ceremony children chose the winning numbers and sang them out. What the three wise men would think about this is easy to imagine. In towns where there were winners, there was the usual wild rejoicing with abundant drinking.
     The distortion of this solemn day was most evident in Logroņo, where a group of people won a large prize. In addition to the usual festivity, there were thanks to Our Lady of Hope, the patron saint of Logroņo, to whom the inhabitants had prayed when they bought the tickets. There was no sign that they thought of the children to whom the day is supposedly dedicated, nor to the mothers in jail, who really needed hope.
     Despite this nonsense, serious life went on. The King presided over the annual military mass (pascua castrense), which had been postponed because of the death of his mother. ETA hooligans attacked the homes of Basque non-nationalists, including socialists, while, at a ceremony honoring the armed forces, Spanish leaders said that terrorism would not force them to make changes.
     As usual, there were significant lexicographical straws in the wind. Spain claims to be the leader of the Ibero-American world, what Franco called la Hispanidad; October 12 became the Day of La Hispanidad. To replace a word discredited with Franco, there were speeches praising "la espaņolidad," This word joins "la mexicanidad", "la peruanidad", to indicate the spiritual essence of the country- I do not know how many Latin American countries have invented similar terms. I cannot imagine for example "la venezolanidad." Has any WAISer kept track of these words?

Ronald Hilton - 1/6/00


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