Los Santos Inocentes

Today, December 28, Spain and most Spanish-speaking countries celebrate ‘el día de los santos inocentes’ (the innocent saints), that originally commemorated the murder of all children under two years old in Bethlehem by King Herod, ostensibly to rid himself of the baby Jesus.

Today, however, is the day when people play all kinds of practical jokes on one another, like April Fools’ Day in the USA and the UK or les Poissons d’Avril in France. People will call to say you’ve won the lottery, kids will stick paper dolls on their friends’ backs and the newspapers will invent stories, some of them so realistic that most people will believe them. 

For example, several years ago our local newspaper reported that the sailboat that had competed in the World’s Cup, sponsored by Rioja wines, was offering free cruises down the Ebro river.  Hundreds of people went down to the river to line up for a ride.  Another year, it was announced that city hall had approved a subway system for Logroño, and that a world-class soccer star had signed a deal with the local team.

Lately, however, these practical jokes or ‘inocentadas’ are absent from the papers.  A journalist suggested in this morning’s LA RIOJA that the daily doses of bad news due to the current economic conditions were about as much as people were willing to put up with, some of which, such as ‘2010 will be the year the Spanish economy starts to grow again’ and ‘the housing and unemployment crises are about to end’ are so unbelievable that they sound like December 28th’s practical jokes all year round.

I, for one, am going to start a new December 28 tradition:  give my friends some good news and buy them a glass of wine.  That’s what we need around here today!

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