OK, you have been warned. Today’s blog talks about religion and some of its traditions, so please don’t complain to me after reading it that you don’t like it! Honestly, I won’t care, even if you do.
Today is a big day on the religious calendar in Yunquera – Corpus Christi. It celebrates the belief in the physical body and blood of Christ in the real presence (i.e. blood and body) in the communion ritual. Many Christian churches (the Methodist church I attended as a child, for example) believe that the communion wafer and wine/grape juice only representthe blood and body of Christ, but some (e.g. Catholics and Church of England) theoretically believe in “transubstantiation”. Transubstantiation is the belief that, once an ordained priest blesses the communion bread, it is transformed into the actual flesh of Christ (though it retains the appearance, odor, and taste of bread); and when he blesses the wine, it is transformed into the actual blood of Christ (though it retains the appearance, odor, and taste of wine).
And that’s the end of the religious education for today (and thank you, Mr Internet!). You don’t have to believe in the reason for the fiesta, however, to enjoy the day.
Here in Yunquera, Corpus Christi is a serious holiday. The day before, all the women in the neighbourhood streets wash and clean the outside of their houses, and wash down the streets. Then, very early this morning, everyone gathers to decorate the streets with flowers and palm leaves – it is truly a gorgeous sight!
Our English friends join in activities of their streets. One lady helps pick out the flowers used in decoration. This is a long and complicated task, as each woman has her own (very strong) opinion on the choice of colours and types of flowers.
The English ladies’ husbands are taller than most Yunqueranos, so do the ‘high up’ decorating of the street. My friends are expert bakers, so bake a ton of cake, scones, breads and cupcakes for morning tea. (Their Spanish neighbours absolutely adore English baked goods!)
By noon, the decorations are complete. Then come many floats with huge religious significance carried around the streets and a special Mass or two to be celebrated, but as you can tell, I’m fuzzy on the meaning and import of this part.
Later tonight, the streets will be cleaned. Tomorrow, there will be no sign of the decorations, the streets will be clean as a pin. The ladies will enjoy a well-deserved break before plunging into their everyday lives once again!