LOVES FOUND AND LOST - SAINT VALENTINE LEGENDS
Andy Ormiston / 2010-02-05 15:06:36
(Author of Torrevieja Cameos)
In the late 1990’s Saint Valentine’s Day gained more popularity in Spain, probably because of the foreign influence. As such there is no real fiesta for this day in the country. It is based on another Roman festival commemorating young men’s rite of passage to the god Lupercus, that was adjusted to Christian ideology in the fifth century. The Roman celebration included a lottery whereby the young men could draw the names of young girls from a box and this would be a sexual pair for the next year. Of course the Church could not have this promiscuity and the lottery was of saint’s names instead of lovers. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers because of legends associated with him.
He was a Roman soldier who refused to pay allegiance to the Roman gods and was beheaded. During his time in prison, Valentine fell in love with the gaoler’s daughter who was blind. Their love and faith helped her to recover her sight and as he was being marched off to the chopping block she read his farewell message, which was signed, “from your Valentine.”
As this feast was held in mid February it has come to be associated with the carnival. In Teruel there is a medieval festival on the weekend nearest to the 14th February. This is based on another romantic legend of Isabel and Diego with shades of Romeo and Juliet. Isabel was the daughter of a rich and influential man of the town and Diego was poor, but the couple loved each other. The father agreed that Diego should go off to seek his fortune and return within a stipulated time and on a specific date, otherwise Isabel would be given in marriage to someone else. When the date arrived there was no sign of Diego so Isabel was married off. Diego came the following day, a rich man, but just too late. He pined for his Isabel and begged just one kiss, but too late again.
Poor Diego languished and died and as he lay there awaiting burial Isabel heard the news and rushed to him to kiss his forehead, again too late. She herself died of a broken heart and the pair was buried together. You can see their marble statues lying side by side in Teruel. This festival in the town includes a re-enactment of the story by two youngsters, dressed in typical costumes. Many other people take part and there is a market, dancing, and open fires in the street where suckling pig and other delicacies are cooked. It goes on late into the night, often broken up by sword fighting between chain mail clad ‘soldiers’ who are supposed to have fallen out with each other.
Torrevieja also has a love story in calle Cariño which relates of how two young teenager neighbours fell madly in love and were inseparable. However, she became seriously ill and died. The boy just wasted away and died of a broken heart and the street was renamed calle Cariño in their memory.
Tags: Legends, Valentine, Andy Ormiston