Feliz, Feliz en tu día!

Today I had on one of those struggle faces. One of those “Don’t-bug-me-or-stand-in-front-of-the-coffee-machine-as-I’m-tired” faces that Refu always points out with a jolly, Seño, tienes mala carilla!

I was tired, overwhelmed by pulling off three Thanksgiving parties for 155 picky children and dreading the workday when Almudena approached me.

“Cat!” she called out from halfway down the hall, “It’s your saint day, felicidades!” with a big kiss for both cheeks. Almudena is the Religion Department chair and always on top of the Saint’s calendar. I made a mental note to buy a small cake for merienda, as is customary on your santo.

As a Catholic, I can name several saints, the century of their coronation and what they are famous for. But when it comes to remembering their feast days, I didn’t even know my own. I had to explain to Almudena that, in my confirmation, I chose Lucy (Lucía in Spanish, one of my favorite names), so I would technically celebrate on December 13th. Nonsense! She proclaimed, we should sing to you!

Saint days in Spain are like half birthdays. You get sung to, your parents bring treats to school. But as Spain is utterly Catholic (without being so), Gonzalo in three years also announced it was his saint and his parents were cooking him a special dinner. Some children are named for the saint whose feast day they’re born on, or some to a special family saint prayed to frequently. I, for one, named my dearfully departed bike Juan Bosco because I christened him on January 31st. There are patrons of cities, professions, and even American States! But since Kike’s family doesn’t celebrate it (though I know it’s July 13th), I have never gotten into the tradition until I came to a religious school to teach and have to recognize children with this song:

Almudena swung my arms while singing it and I laughed for once, not embarrassed but thrilled to have someone think of me on my special day.

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living among pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English Language Academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

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