Here in Torrevieja, Spain, things have been quiet up until this week. Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter, also marks the official beginning of the travel season. Torrevieja, a city with a population of about 100,000, slumbers peacefully through the fall and winter seasons with less than half that number of residents. Suddenly, along comes Good Friday and the city bursts at the seams. This wave of visitors to Spain’s Costa Blanca is the annual ‘British invasion’ since most of the recent arrivals are from the UK, many of whom own apartments in the city. Restaurants that have been sitting dormant suddenly come to life like a bear coming out of hibernation. Beach chairs, towels and beach umbrellas are flying out of the local stores. Cold beverages and snack foods are also big sellers.
Most of Spain’s fellow EU citizens enter Spain driving their own vehicles, and now finding a parking place on a city street would be like looking for an unoccupied parking meter in Times Square. One should keep in mind that the driving distance from Europe’s northern cities to Spain is less than 1,000 miles, a straightforward two-day drive. This proximity and the relatively low cost of living in Spain compared to many Western European countries explains why so many non-Spaniards have taken up residence in Spain, both seasonally and permanently.
Thinking back to Easter Sundays from my childhood, I recollect colored Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies (white chocolate was my favorite), jelly beans and pastel colored M&M’s hiding in simulated grass-filled baskets. Here in Spain I have seen no grocery displays for egg-dyeing, no candy displays, no special chocolate treats. The focus for Easter is almost entirely on the religious significance of the holiday. During Holy Week the churches in town, almost all of which are Catholic, parade down the city streets with statues of Christ on the Cross or of The Virgin Mary in glorious robes hoisted high on the shoulders of young men. Often, the parades of made up of parochial students in their school uniforms while their parents walk alongside with video cameras or stand back to proudly watch their children.
Just like in the United States where Independence Day marks the beginning of the travel and vacation season, the media here warns of extra highway patrol officers to crack down on speeders. It is estimated that 12 million motorists hit Spain’s highways in the days leading up to Easter, and the added traffic patrols are fair warning for all drivers to maintain safe practices on the highways.
That is Easter week here in Torrevieja. Our Easter was peaceful and pleasant. I hope yours was, too. And it turns out the Easter bunny left a white chocolate candy bar in my cupboard!
Easter needs to be celebrated here like it is over there! Now it is all about the Easter bunny, new Easter clothes, and who gets the most crap in their baskets. I’m guilty of hiding Easter eggs for the grandkids and indulging in all of that myself, but I can honestly say that I do my best to see that my family puts the Reason for the season first.
You and Florence are blessed to be where you are right now.
There is definitely less commercialism in Spain than in the U.S. Life is simpler here because most people seem satisfied that they have what they need, and they are more able to focus on the significance of holy days. Thank you for sharing your comments, Nan. – Mike
Sounds like the holiday is less commercialized in Spain. I’m glad that the Easter Bunny at least brought you a white chocolate bunny (even if it’s not vegan!). Happy spring! Celeste 🙂
At least white chocolate is vegetarian, right? No animals were harmed in the making of my chocolate. My chocolate bar wasn’t even in the shape of a bunny. That counts for something, doesn’t it? (Baby steps.) 🙂 – Mike
It’s always interesting to live in a place that has the “flip of a switch” tourist season. When we lived in St. Augustine, FL it was that way with Spring Break for the college kids. Over the course of a couple of weeks, there were large groups of sunburned kids all over the place. And strangely, it ended just as quickly. Actually, in SA it wasn’t such a nuisance, but we were always glad to “get our town back.” ~James
I like that you remind us, Mike, through your explanation of Spanish customs, of the meaning of Easter. I enjoyed through this post, the description of a place ‘coming alive’ and bustling with visitors. I am proud of the fact there are places that focus on the celebration and the symbolism. (Of Christ’s death on a cross and His Resurrection, too.) I think most people raise their children in America with a variety of ways of celebrating holidays. I always have a crèche scene and also, over Easter, the cross made of palms from Palm Sunday. Along with a book about the ‘reason’ we have Easter and Christmas, written for children.
In America, I like the way we have fun with things, though. I hope no one will be upset with my comments. I like the joy of bunnies, eggs, chicks and bright colors at Easter. I think of it as ways to rejoice after we ‘gave up’ things for Lent! Smiles, Robin
I regret my response to this comment did not post the first time. Now a week has passed along with another holiday celebrating San Vicente Ferrer, a Dominican friar named after the patron saint of Valencia. Born in 1350, he is the patron of builders, plumbers, fishermen and orphanages. Though only celebrated locally in the Valencia Region of Spain, the Day of San Vicente Ferrer is cause for celebration with parties, feasting and dancing, all of which the Spanish people are adept at.
I hope your grandchildren had plenty to be cheerful about on Easter, including chocolate and jelly beans, the latter of which is still one of my favorites. I am particularly fond of the smaller Starburst jelly beans, although I am cutting down now that Easter has passed. Thank you for your comments which are always a delight to read. I am sorry I did not reply sooner. – Mike
I think that any reason for celebration is special and I do believe you are in the ‘right place’ for celebrations. I did not know about the simple patron of the everyday people, builders, plumbers and even orphanages. I am happy you are keeping busy, don’t worry about my second comment. You may use the ‘edit’ button and eliminate it!
I am also a fan of the sour kind of jelly beans and the Starbursts have a lot of flavor, so those are also special, too! I bought a box of Russell Stover dark chocolates for my Mom, she turned around and gave me a box with Russell Stover dark chocolate ‘Special Edition.’ It had truffles in it, notice the ‘past tense’ in this last comment, it means I ate a day since Easter and have no more left! It is nice to have warmer weather here, we had a nice family picnic on Wednesday out at the Delaware State Park. My three children and the grands were there, with a feast and it was so nice! It was almost 80 degrees out! I took lots of photos, they had planned it to give a ‘send off’ to my youngest daughter to visit her Dad, her first time alone with him for many years. He admitted to her, that it took him past 40 years old to ‘grow up,’ and want to be more involved in family life. He is 61 now and lives in St. Louis. They went to see the Cardinals play on Thurs. Well, that is about all the news, from here! I will be listing your blog in a new post tomorrow, about who is in my family of bloggers…I know you don’t accept nominations but I like to remind people of your posts and journeys! Hugs, Robin
I hope that my message above did not offend you, Mike! Smiles, Robin
Of course not!