STAR OF THE SEAS: VIRGEN DEL CARMEN

Virgen del Carmen, Torre del Mar, Spain

Over the past couple of days, various festivities in honour of the Virgen del Carmen, the patron saint of fishermen and sailors, have been in full swing.

Around 16th July each year,  many of the coastal towns and fishing villages of Spain celebrate by parading the statue of Virgin del Carmen through the streets, accompanied by the steady rhythm of a brass band, the resounding thump of a drumbeat and the cries from the crowd of “guappa” or “viva” as the statue passes by.

At dusk, after the procession arrives at the water’s edge, the Virgin del Carmen is taken out to sea on a flower-decked boat, accompanied by a flotilla of fishing boats (jábegas),to bless their fishing grounds.

The Virgen del Carmen is of great importance to the inhabitants of Axarquían towns and villages such as Caleta de Vélez, Nerja, Rincón de la Victoría and Torre del Mar because many larger towns and holiday resorts along the coast were once small fishing villages where the sea provided their daily existence.

But we need to look back to the scriptures of the Old Testament, centuries before the birth of Christ, for the origin of the Virgen del Carmen.

The Bible tells us that the prophet Elijah went up Mount Carmelo near Haife, in Israel to pray for rain to relieve a great drought that had parched the lands.  Whilst Elijah was on Mount Carmelo, he saw white clouds forming, which would bring the much needed rain.  Elijah interpreted the clouds as a sign of the coming of a Saviour who would be born of a Virgin.

In gratitude for the rain, the community dedicated itself to praying for the mother of the Saviour to come, and the Order of the Carmelites was formed.

On 16th July 1251, the Virgen del Carmen is said to have appeared to Englishman, Simon Stock, who was responsible for building Carmelite monasteries throughout Europe in the 13th century.   The story goes that when she appeared to him, the Virgen was holding a scapular and she promised that Carmelites who show their devotion should use this as a sign of privilege that they would be “granted the grace of final perseverance and be delivered from eternal Purgatory”.

Scapular worn for Virgen del Carmen, Torre del Mar, Spain
A scapular was originally an apron, forming part of the dress of a religious order, but for the lay-faithful, scapulars usually bear images, or verses from scripture.  Devotional scapulars typically consist of two rectangular pieces of cloth, wool or other fabric that are connected by bands. One rectangle hangs over the chest of the wearer, while the other rests on the back, with the bands running over the shoulders.

The Virgin Mary of Mount Carmelo (the Virgin of Carmen or Virgen del Carmen) is also known as Stella Maris (Latin for Star of the Sea) which is the name given to the Pole Star (Polaris) used by mariners for centuries as celestial navigation.

EDITED TO ADD: These photos were all taken during the evening of 16th July 2014 in Torre del Mar.  I had to wade out into the sea, above my knees, to take them because there were so many people on the beach, it was the only way of getting the chance of some good shots without thousands of heads or bodies in the way.   My sundress was soaked and I had to try to hold it up with one hand and take photos with my other.   Happy days :) 

Which is your favourite Spanish festival?

CBBH Photo Challenge: FLOWERS

Stephanotis - waxy flowers and delicate perfume I was surprised to see that I had never used the flower theme for the CBBH Photo Challenge before, because I take so many photos of plants, trees and flowers.  So, I thought I would remedy that situation by sharing with you some of the flowers that grow here in my garden in southern Spain, at different times of the year.

The first photo (above) is a waxy-flowered stephanotis, which creeps along my fence and gives off a delicate fragrance.

I sometimes find it difficult to photograph the purple agapanthus, as they flower at the end of long stems, so I got in close for these shots.  I like the effect of the first photo, in particular, but what do you think? First almond blossom in Andalucia, 2014 Here is a photo of the first delicate blossom on one of our 47 almond trees, in January this year. wild orchid….and these beautiful wild Butterfly Orchids also make their appearance each year, heralding the arrival of Springtime in Andalucía.  Raindrops on purple flower I’m a huge fan of the colour purple, so this plant is a favourite of mine, and it was only thanks to some of my readers that I finally found out its name.  Hardenbergia comptoniana, a native of Australia, is a vigorous climbing plant and the arching flowers look so beautiful after the rain.

So, I’ve shown you mine – now it’s YOUR turn to show me YOURS!

Don’t forget that the CBBH Photo Challenge is a little different from some other challenges, in two ways. First, it’s only once a month – giving you lots of time to consider your entry before the end of the calendar month. Second, and most important, this is a BLOG HOP (after all, it is the CBBH – Conejo Blanco Blog Hop, conejo blanco means white rabbit in Spanish), so DON’T FORGET that in your post you need to add links to two blogs that you have visited and commented on during the past month.

That way, when we visit each other, we can HOP OVER to your links, connect with others and share a little blog love around!

CBBH Blog Hop

My Featured Blog Links for this month:

*** Travel writer Annie Bennett spends most of her time Mooching around Spain, researching articles for national newspapers and magazines, but often just sitting in cafés, reading the paper and drinking wine.  Not only does Annie love writing about her travels, she also loves writing about food.  So, if you want to know where in Lanzarote you can buy the best cheeseor exactly where you can find a traditional shop in Menorca that sells everything horse-related, then Annie is your woman!

*** Another blogger I always enjoy visiting is Tamara at A Foot in Two Campos who, two years ago, bought a beautiful old house in the village of Colmenar, in Málaga province.  She had me worried for a while when she admitted in one of her blog posts to stalking me – but fortunately, what she meant was that she was inspired to visit three places that I had blogged about!  Tamara has thrown herself into village life in Colmenar and also into learning Spanish.  Indeed, at the end of each of her blog posts she discusses a particular language point, which always proves helpful.

Please HOP over and say HELLO to both of these ladies, and tell them Marianne sent you!

So that´s the CBBH Photo Challenge for July, everyone.

Remember, all you have to do is post your entry by the end of the month, tag your entry ‘CBBH Photo Challenge’, link back to this blog and, most importantly, don´t forget to add links to any two blogs that you´ve commented on during the past month, so that we can all HOP OVER and have a look.

Make sure you follow this blog so you don´t miss next month’s exciting challenge!

For more information on how the CBBH Photo Challenge works click here.

I hope everyone taking part enjoys the exposure the CBBH Photo Challenge offers to featured blogs and, who knows, you may end up finding a new favourite!

I´m looking forward to seeing your interpretations.

 

[CBBH logo Image credit: (cc) Mostly Dans]

 

Cordoba’s Patio Festival 2014


Patio Festival, Cordoba , Spain

Even though I live in Spain, where it was Mother’s Day last Sunday, I still celebrate the day at the end of March, at the time of Mother’s Day in England, because that’s where I’m from and my family live there.

But, I know that many of you are celebrating Mother’s Day today, so I’ve got a real treat for you.

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Last week I visited Cordoba, one of my favourite cities in Spain, for the annual Patio Festival (La Fiesta de Los Patios de Cordoba).  

 The old part of the city consists of narrow cobble-stone streets with the houses white-washed to keep them cool during the very hot summers.  Many of these old houses or apartments are situated around a private, interior courtyard accessible only to residents.

Patio Festival, Cordoba , Spain

The origin of these courtyards can be traced to Roman times, when the courtyard (known as an atrium) was a place where rainwater was collected.

Later, the Moors who dominated this area of Spain for so long, made the courtyard a much more social space.  They planted vines so that their branches could offer shade during the very hot summer months, and pretty water features and pots of flowers were added making the patios a place where neighbours could get together and enjoy the cooler temperatures.

Patio Festival, Cordoba , Spain

Of course, these courtyards or patios form part of private houses, so are normally closed to the general public.   But, for two weeks in May each year, as families compete for the most beautiful patio in Cordoba, they are thrown open so that members of the public can visit each of these patios.

Patio Festival, Cordoba , Spain

A few have plaques on the wall outside, announcing their previous successes in the Patio Festival, but all of the competing patios are identified by two little conifer trees in red pots outside the gate.

All, but one or two of the Patios are FREE to visit, though a small donation is appreciated (but not obligatory) as you leave.

Bear in mind that Los Patios de Cordoba is a very popular (and famous) Festival in Spain, with hoards of tourists – both international and local – descending on the city every day.  Weekends are especially busy, and a free ticketing system has now been established, to enable some semblance of order and safety when visiting the often tiny patios.  (See link below to get your free tickets).

Patio Festival, Cordoba , Spain

You can collect a map from the Tourist Office, on which six colour-coded routes to visit are identified, each with between 8-12 patios to visit.  (See link below to download a map).

The competing patios are open from 11am – 2pm and 6pm – 10pm each day from 5th – 18th May 2014.

How would you fancy watering all these pots?

Further information:

HISTORY OF THE PATIOS

PROGRAMME

DOWNLOAD A MAP OF THE ROUTES

FREE TICKETS

 

Gratitude and saying it with flowers!

Taking the high road in Frigiliana , Spain

Last week, I went on a photo-shoot around the pretty, white village of Frigiliana.  Can you see the little grey and white pebbles making up patterns on the steps?  And the plaque on the wall at the top of the steps?  Well, I’ll be telling you more about them soon, but for now I have a favour to ask.

I’m delighted to tell you that my blog, East of Málaga, has been not only nominated, but shortlisted for a Brilliance in Blogging (BiB) Award 2014 in the PHOTO category – BUT I NEED YOUR VOTES TO GET THROUGH TO THE FINAL!

CAN YOU HELP ME?

If you click through to the Voting Form HERE and then scroll down to the PHOTO section – check the little bubble next to East of Malaga, and then scroll down to the bottom of the page and submit your vote.

Last year more than 200,000 nominations and votes were cast – making it one of the UK’s most popular blogger awards. So, you can imagine how excited and honoured I am to have been shortlisted into the last 16 blogs in the PHOTO category.

Thanks everyone!

Mezquita, Cordoba, Spain

Tomorrow I’m heading to one of my favourite cities in Spain – Córdoba.  Not only will I be re-visiting the amazing Mezquita, but the main reason for this visit is for the famous Patio Festival.  

Nothing says it’s Spring each year more than the many private courtyards within the city with are opened to the general public, to view the beautiful displays of flowers.  It’s a few years since I last visited the Patios, so it will be quite a treat.  

I’ll no doubt be telling you all about that soon, too!

 

**If you don’t already follow my FACEBOOK page, then you are missing out on lots of information and photos that I never post here on the blog.  Come on over and say HOLA!