On Wednesday, Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced a sweeping deficit plan that has brought support from the European Union and. President Barack Obama, as well as consternation from nearly every corner of Spanish politics. Trade unions have called for widespread strikes starting June 2.
Thursday, a Spanish Evangelical and lifelong resident of Rabat joined more than 80 Christians asked to leave Morocco since March for, according to the country’s Interior Ministry, proselytism and “infringing on the Muslim faith.”
Friday, judge Baltasar Garzon Real was suspended from his post in a case that has brought together Pedro Almodovar, Francoism and judicial power better than any movie can.
Even with all that important news, the word around Madrid was “San Isidro.” From Wednesday to Sunday the city was in festival mode as Spaniards celebrated the feast of St. Isidore the Laborer, patron saint of the city.
Nearly every shop and store closed Saturday for the main day of festivities; only the restaurants and bars stayed open to take in the influx of people from other parts of Spain and Europe.
The more traditional and Catholic of the celebrations featured small pilgrimages, or “romerias,” in honor of the saint. They are by no means the largest of such romerias. Indeed, the larger Romeria of the Virgin of Navahonda takes place in the municipality of Robeldo de Chavela. Because the rest of the city is celebrating at the same time, though, the walking celebrations gain some notice.
The larger and more heavily attended fiestas appeared along Gran Via. Construction started on the 1.3-km thoroughfare in 1910, so all this year the city has been celebrating its 100-year anniversary. Many points along the street were completely full of people as they watched projections onto the Telefonica building, Latin dancing and a performance of the Municipal Symphonic Band of Madrid. (They celebrated their 100th anniversary last year.)
An endless amount (“sinfin”) of smaller events took place around the city, including a Planeta Madrid concert on Friday and three days of ballroom dancing in the gardens near the Royal Palace.
The largest celebration, however, is the Feria de San Isidro, a 26-day bull-fighting festival at the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas. Every day from May 6 through 31, at least three matadors fight at the ring that is at once the home of Spanish bullfighting and the host of a 1996 AC/DC concert. On Sunday, bulls from the Bayones stock faced matadors Gabriel Picazo, Emilio Justo and Israel Lancho.