Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Bridge

No sooner had we written about one obscure holiday, than another is upon us. Make that two: yesterday was Día de la Constitución and tomorrow, in a perfect marriage of Church and State, is Día de la Inmaculada (the Inmaculada in this case refers to Mary--Dec 8 is the day that Pope Pio IX declared that she too was conceived without sin).

The coupling of these two particular holidays might be a bit strange were it not for the puente. A puente (or "bridge") is what happens in Spain when a holiday falls a day away from the weekend--you just elide right over that irksome workday in the middle, and turn a simple day off into a four-day extravaganza. When it came time to schedule a day, 27 years ago, to sign the Spanish constitution, I have no doubt that country's politicos purposefully chose Dec. 6 because it fell two days before Dia de la Inmaculada. Not one: that would have gotten them, at best, one measly extra day off. But by putting the new holiday two days before the old one, they guaranteed themselves at least one puente. And in the best case scenario, two. Indeed, right now we are in the middle of the perfect storm of Spanish puentes: two official holidays that fall, respectively, on a Tuesday and a Thursday, necessarily wiping out Monday and Friday, and, why not, taking Wednesday with them for good measure. In short, a 10-day vacation.

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