Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lunes de Aguas

El Lunes de Aguas is a local traditional public holiday in Salamanca, maybe the most well known and loved by the people here. The tradition consists of going out to the countryside or to the river to eat dinner with friends and/or family. The typical food is a “hornazo”, a type of pastry filled with typical food from Salamanca like: chorizo, lomo, eggs etc. They´re usually eaten with “empanadas” which are a little thinner and filled with different fillings: tuna, ham and cheese), Spanish omlette and sandwiches, and they are usually accompanied by wine, beer and other drinks.

Typical images of the day are, groups of young people laden with bags of food and drink and long queues of people coming out of the cake shops, all in search of a hornazo. In the evening, it´s normal to see deserted streets  in Salamanca whilst everybody is in the parks and green areas of the city eating, playing in groups and sitting on the grass. Then later on there are usually traffic jams and chaos in the bus and train stations as people come back. A lot of the time the rain shows it presence and ruins a bit of bread but it´s normal, it´s the beginning of spring. This has not been the case this year fortunately!

The origin of this tradition is that years ago in Salamanca, it was governed by it´s morals and customs of the strict religion of Catholicism, like the rest of Spain and during the time that proceeded lent, prostitutes were sent away from the city. They were sent to the other side of the river where they stayed there for nearly 2 months in the Casa de la Mancebía. It was constructed at the end of the XV century and governed by “the father of the prostitutes” who was locally famous for being religious. The following Monday after Easter Monday the veto and exile ended and students and men of the city - supposedly only single men ... -, crossed the river in boats to go looking for them whilst snacking on the banks of the Tormes, mainly hornazo and wine.

Obviously the part of the tradition for prostitutes has been left behind and only the part that corresponds to the picnic has stayed. This distorts some of Cicero's famous quote: other times, other customs. It´s the same hornazo, though. (And don´t miss it!).

As you can see in the picture above, Tía Tula celebrates this day with it´s students, carefully following the rules of this day: sitting in groups on the grass to eat hornazo. We believe that they loved both the tradition and the hornazo itself. These things are universal!

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