Saturday, 8 December 2012

Inmaculada Concepción - National Holiday

Many Christian communities around the world observe the immaculate conception on December 8. This day is a holy day of obligation in which many Christians, particularly of the Catholic faith, attend special church services.

Various paintings, statues and other forms of artwork have been made depicting the Immaculate Conception. They usually show Mary as a young woman dressed in white and blue. She is often standing on a hill or raised area and has a halo of stars around her head. The pieces of art may also include images of clouds, golden lights, cherubs, lilies or roses.
One well-known example associated with the Immaculate Conception is a statue known as Our Lady of Camarin (Santa Marian Kamalen), which was found on the shores of Merizo in Guam more than 300 years ago.

Theological controversy surrounded the Feast of the Immaculate Conception for centuries. However popular celebration of this holiday dates back to at least the eighth century. The argument related to the meaning of the word “immaculate”, which in this context refers to the belief that Jesus’ mother Mary was conceived without original sin, according to Christian belief.
Many theologians throughout Christian history, including St Thomas Aquinas, questioned the Immaculate Conception.
It remained open for debate for many years until Pope Pius IX proclaimed it to be an essential dogma in the Catholic Church on December 8, 1854.
The written document on this is known as the "Ineffabilis Deus". Since then, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the belief that Mary was born without sin and that God chose her to be Jesus’ mother.  Many Anglicans in the world also hold this belief.

Los Seises  -  The Six of Seville

 One of the largest celebrations, the Dance of the Sixes, takes Seville's Cathedral, a sacred dance that began in the 15th century and remains unchanged since the 17th century.
Speaking of six actually means to speak of the ten children of the Cathedral of Seville that dance ​​ on three occasions during the year: in the Octave of Corpus Christi, the Immaculate, and in the Triduum of Carnival. This colorful and peculiar tradition dates back to the Renaissance, and today is known everywhere. 

Between 8 and 15 December, the "Seises" dance every evening in the Cathedral for about an hour:
a unique opportunity, only repeated in the Triduum of Carnival and the feast of Corpus Christi in Seville. Only Seville and Toledo have kept these dances and ritual chants without interruption since the time of Catholic Kings Ferdinand and Isabella, although andalusian towns like Priego and Guadix have incorporated this tradition in the 20th century

Its origin is in the 15th century, in the middle of the Renaissance, when choirs of children singers began to spread throughout the dioceses of Spain. It won't be till the 16th century, in the Baroque time, when some of these choirs, usually 6 voices (hence "six"), start dancing in certain religious festivals, especially the Corpus.

  The "sixes" dress in red on the Corpus, which is the only time they dance outside the cathedral, and in blue when they do inside, usually before the High Altar.

The reason is linked with the Counter-Reformation against Luther. The Vatican and its armed wing, which was the Spain of Charles V and Philip II, promote splendor of Catholicism through festivities, dramatic events, public celebrations like parades, processions, etc...
The week of the Immaculada is full of traditions in Spain. Thoes who visit Seville to enjoy the short ritual dance of the Sixes can combine their trip to enjoy other renowned festivals:

 In Caceres the youngsters of the town dress in jewelled clothing and hold a representation of the Virgin Mary high in the air as they run through the streets to cheering and explosions.

 On the night of December 7, in the Sierra de Aracena is held to the "Pure" with huge bonfires in the streets, where children turn torches called "pinwheels" which then turn on their heads.The Feast of pinwheels is given in Aracena and Linares de la Sierra, and the celebration is spontaneous and includes the tasting of the local iberian pork with neighbors at the fireside.

 On December 10, at dawn, locals of Almonaster come out to sing in a ritual that leads to the houses of the stewards that have been elected from the village for the two crosses of May. The life of this village is ruled by The Crosses of May throughout the whole year, filling it with rituals and celebrations varying depending on the calendar.

 On December 12 in Casarabonela, near Malaga,  it is the Celebration of The Virgin of Rondeles, a mixture of the sacred and the profane as the fire of torches (purifying in pre-Christian cultures) celebrates this olive oil millers' Virgin Lady.