I have always really enjoyed Valentine's Day. As a holiday, it has a lot going for it- my favorite color is red and Valentine's color happens to be red as well. There are ribbons, lace, bows and dressing thematically. There are chocolates and cute cards and romantic songs. At home, there is Valentine's brunch with the family and flowers to brighten up the dull February days. And, usually a surprise from my own dear Valentine. As this is my first holiday away from home, it was easy to forget that things might be far more different than I had expected.
I woke up today to Loli's usual "A comer!" at our door calling us to lunch. I bounded (ha) from bed and spiced up my pajama outfit with my sparkly red and silver headband to start this Valentine's off right. Once at the table, I wished Alberto, Loli and Amanda Happy Valentine's Day! Loli looked a little confused and Alberto just looked down at his soup and kept eating. After a moment, she said, "Don't wish us a happy Valentine's! Neither of us have sweethearts!" It seems that Valentine's here is pretty exclusively for los amantes and less of a day about platonic love. Looks like Amanda and I, with our sweethearts across the ocean, were out of luck.
But then again, it makes sense that Valentine’s isn’t as the widespread and colourful holiday here as it is in the US. My hypothesis is that February simply isn’t as horrible here as it is back home (there’s a reason February is the shortest month of the year...). In Sevilla, you don't wonder whether the sun has ceased to exist altogether and your tears don’t freeze in your eyes whenever you step outside. With these tradeoffs, Valentine’s Day can be a little muted. It's not a bad deal- with weather this nice and temperate, who really needs gaudy and splashy holidays?
Or so I would have thought if not for last night. Last night was Carnaval in Cadiz, one of the biggest carnivals in the world. Amanda and I made our way through the streets of Sevilla dressed up as an Indian squaw and a lamp, respectively. We met up with the geek, the tree, the devil and the starry night (among many others) and hopped on a bus headed for Cadiz.
(Lyndsay as the tree, Chantel as the geek, me as "La Lamparita," Gayle as a starry night and Melissa as a she-devil)
After an hour-long ride, full of hit jams with lots of sing-along potential, we disembarked and joined the throngs of noisily clad people walking through the streets. True to form, the Spanish kept it simple and social. There were no grand floats, parades or music. Instead, the attraction was the fellow revelers. Creative costumes were complimented and the aim of the night was to make sure you had at least a quick chat and a photo taken with each and every single person you thought had a great costume. I am proud to say that my $5 lampshade constituted a great costume and I was in high demand all night! Every where I went, I heard “Lamparita! Lamparita!” Here are my favorites:
#5 The explorers
#4 The baby bunnies
#3 The fleas?
#2 The Valentine's Hearts
#1 The chickens!
The streets were full to the brim with costumes as crazy or crazier than the little sample that I just provided. Each plaza and side street brought new costumes and new friends to meet. But as the night hurried onwards towards dawn, even a crew as creatively dressed as ours got a little tired, so we grabbed some chocolate churros and hopped back on the bus to Sevilla and finally reached our warm wonderful beds at about 6:00 am. Talk about a once in a life-time night!
As I sat at dinner later in the day, I decided my Valentine’s Day had gone pretty well, even if it lacked a little in the cheesy heart department. The celebration may have been a little different, I kept my red headband on throughout the day as a reminder of the many people back home that I love and recognition of the true blessing it is to be able to have such a strong community of people who love me back in my family, church, and school.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:9-11