Saturday, May 15, 2010

San Isidro

I have many things on my list to learn in preparation for the future I anticipate. Fortunately, I usually like learning new things and I hope that in addition to being practical and useful, they´ll also prove to be enjoyable at least some of the time. I´m challenging myself to learn to make soap, knit, spin, start seeds and grow vegetables, cook something new every week. I think all these skills will come in mighty handy on my Galician Homestead. I expect to add lots of renovation skills too - but more on that later.

To follow up on the gardening theme - today is San Isidro, the day of the Patron Saint of Madrid. Never heard of him? Me neither - until I ran across this lovely excerpt from ¨In a Unicorn´s Garden¨by Judyth A McLeod which I thoroughly enjoyed. Turns out San Isidro is also the patron saint of farmers and all toilers of the soil.

. . .St. Isidore (San Ysidro in Spanish) was born into poverty in 1070 and lived throughout his life near Madrid. He began work as a farm labourer, but, being very devout, began each morning by attending Mass. As a result, he often arrived late at work and his fellow labourers finally complained to their master, Juan de Vargas, saying that Isidore was not shouldering his fair share of the work.

So the story goes, de Vargas hid in the woods one morning to watch. Isidore, as always, was late and de Vargas was about to reprove him when he saw an angel on either side of Isidore, ploughing the land with him so that his work was that of more than three men. Not surprisingly, de Vargas did not dismiss him. Isidore worked several miracles for the de Vargas family, including raising their daughter from the dead, and was responsible for several miraculous cures. He died in 1130 and was cannonized by Pope Gregory XV

OK - I´ll leave the cautionary capitalist exploitation of the worker out, or the lack of solidarity amongst his fellow laborers, especially considering he was doing 3 times the work they were while they complained. Maybe this has a tie-in with the current crisis after all. And I´ve never seen it spelled Ysidro, as Ms. McLeod has written it, but at least I know who the guy was.

To celebrate, MadrileƱos dress up in typical costume from the turn of the 20th century, known as Chulapos and Chulapas, and there is accompanying music, dancing and the consumption of lots of pork products and wine. Oh, and bullfights lots of bullfights.

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