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The people are passionate – passionate about their excellent food and wine. Passionate about sharing it with friends,
Spaniards are passionate about life in general.
Spain is sensual. It is a treat for all five senses. The taste of an excellent and reasonably priced wine. The sight and sound of Sevillianas music and the dancers in their ruffled long dresses. The smell of the aromatic herbs you step on as you walk through a field.
Sometimes the five senses are pushed to extremes in Spain.
Spain is a state of passion. That is, the country of Spain is often described as being one of passion. And both Spaniards and visitors to Spain often find themselves in a state of passion, caught up in a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement.
Passion can also mean a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement that causes you to act in a dangerous or reckless way. This too can be used to describe Spain. The fires and fireworks in the narrow streets of Valencia. The running of the bulls in Pamplona.
Fun comes before safety.
“Sensual” can of course have sexual connotations, as can passion. The words sensual and passion can refer to strong or sexual feelings.
Both terms could be applied to a type of art in Spain, a type that shocked me when I first became aware of it. That is the sexual sculptures on Medieval Romanesque churches in Spain. I investigated this subject, and share some of the results of those studies on this web site.
Welcome to sensual, passionate Spain!
The title of this web page refers to many mysteries I have found in Spain during the decade I lived there and having returned to Spain for a month or two every year for over two decades more. A mystery is anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown, according to Dictionary.com. Also, it is something that presents features or qualities so obscure as to arouse curiosity or speculation.
I moved to Madrid, Spain in the 1980’s when metal detecting to hunt treasure was not very well known, and it was legal. My oldest son and I became interested in searching for old coins, with the hope of one day finding an ancient Roman coin. My 5 year old son found our first ancient coin – a Celtiberian coin, a Bolskan minted in Huesca, dated between 150 and 100 BC.
It turns out that in a lot of respects Spain means fun and fiesta. Every city, every pueblo has a local fiesta at some point in the year. Often, they are religious in nature, and they may even be celebrated about the calendar day for the patron saint of that city. A good example would be the running of the bulls in Pamplona, more properly called “Los San Fermines” since the fiesta is to celebrate the patron saint of Pamplona, San Fermine.
I arrived at my new job in Spain in January, 1985. In March a coworker, Elena, told me about the feria that is held in April in Seville. She said that a friend of hers leaves town for a week to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the fiesta, and was willing to let Elena and friends use the apartment. Being a government employee, I was attached to the US Embassy, and they always took care of my travel arrangements. So I asked the Embassy travel section to arrange the rental of a van for our trip to Seville.
There is another festival in Andalucia, Southern Spain, well known. That is the pilgrimage to Rocio. While many go to Rocio for the finale of the fiesta, to truly appreciate it, you must make the actual pilgrimage. The origins of the pilgrimage go back to the beginning of the 15th century when a hunter’s dogs led him to a statue of the Virgin Mary in the hollow of a thousand-year-old olive tree.
It is generally agreed that Gustavo Adolfo Béquer (1836-1870) is the greatest Spanish poet of the 19th century. Some of his verses have passed to popular proverbs. In Casa Del Libro I found a poster of Béquer with my favorite quote of his - “It is very sad to die young without a single tear of a woman.”
In the large park, Parque de Maria Luisa, in Sevilla, next to the Plaza de España, is the Glorietta de Bequer. There is a sculpture of three women that represent three aspects of love, with various theories of what those three aspects are. of a woman.”
I think everyone knows that the term “Don Juan” is used to describe a womanizer – a symbol of libertinism, licentiousness. But how did the legend of Don Juan begin? The legend was born with “The Seducer/Trickster of Seville,” by Tirso de Molina, written in 1630. There is a man, Miguel Mañara, from Sevilla in the 1600’s that some suggest was the original model for Tirso de Molina’s work.
While living in Spain I became acquainted with a Spanish book from the year 1330, by an Archpriest named Juan Ruiz. The title of the book in Spanish is the Libro de Buen Amor, or the Book of Good Love. The basic premise is that God’s love is Good Love, and worldly love is crazy love. But there are many stories and fables, including the pursuit of the seduction of several women.
The debate was to determine if the Greeks would give their Law to the Romans. They didn’t speak each other’s language, so agreed to debate by sign language. Each misinterpreted the other’s communication, based on their own expectations. But in the end the Romans did get the Law. Read more, including the actual story from the Libro de Buen Amor here.
This story, like the debate between the Greek and Roman above, indicate that there are many interpretations possible for this book. Read the actual story of King Alcárez from the Libro de Buen Amor here.
This was one of the most shocking mysteries I found in Spain – why would they put obscene sexual sculptures on and in Medieval Romanesque churches? I share some of my thoughts – an introduction with possible reasons and a published study I did of the similarities between the Medieval Book of Good Love and sexual iconography in Romanesque churches – HERE. And I have interviews and articles by other experts HERE.