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SPANISH TRADITIONS

Why a village in northwestern Spain is about to be invaded by bloodthirsty Vikings

Thousands of 'Vikings' will land on the shores of a small village in Galicia on Sunday, as part of an annual festival that commemorates a Scandinavian invasion which took place a thousand years ago.

viking festival galicia
Inhabitants of Catoira village, in Galicia, re-enact the Viking assault that took palce 1,000 years ago. Photos: MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP
 
On the first Sunday of August (in 2022 August 7th), Catoira in the province of Pontevedra is flooded with ‘blood-thirsty’ men and women from all across Europe.
 

Dressed in animal skins and armed with the finest plastic weaponry, they disembark on the rugged Galician coast with the aim of capturing the Towers of the West, just as Norway’s King Olaf II did a millennium ago.

The ‘blood’ spilt during the simulated battles does taste distinctly like red wine, but the visual effect it has when poured all over the fighters’ bodies is just as gruesome.

Catoira’s residents have proudly seen their local festival come on leaps and bounds since its first edition in 1960.

Declared a Festival of International Interest, it also includes musical acts by folk groups and a medieval market in the 11th century towers.

viking festival galicia

The occasion the Romeria de Catoira marks was recounted by local and foreign historians, as was the interest Vikings had in ruling over all of Galicia, Spain’s most westerly region, as they did with Normandy in France.

King Olaf II Haraldsson, first a Viking and finally made a saint when he converted to Christianity, called Galicia Jakobsland (Land of James).

SPAIN-VIKINGS-REENACTMENT-CATOIRA 

2022 marks the 62nd edition of this surreal festival, and will see local band Tanxugueiras (one of the candidates for Spain’s Eurovision entry) perform for a crowd of thousands on Friday. The Viking ‘invasion’ on the other hand will take place at 10am on Sunday morning.

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SPANISH TRADITIONS

Why Monday August 15th is a public holiday in Spain

Monday August 15th is a public holiday in Spain. Find out why and if it's a holiday in your region or not.

Why Monday August 15th is a public holiday in Spain

August is holiday season in Spain, the month when offices close, many small bars and cafes shut up shop and people head away from the cities towards the coasts. 

There are of course some people that have to work during August, but Monday August 15th is a public holiday in all regions of Spain, meaning that businesses that usually stay open in the summer, such as supermarket chains, will close. 

August 15th, is an important date in the Spanish calendar, not only because it’s a public holiday but because it’s a day to celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin, which according to Christians, commemorates the day the Virgin Mary entered heaven. This will be honoured with church masses across the country. 

Every year, August 15th is a guaranteed vacation day, unless it falls on Sunday, which is what happened last year. In that case, each region can decide if they want to keep the holiday or change it to another day, such as moving it to the next day. 

Last year only Andalusia, Aragón, Asturias, the Canary Islands and Castilla y León, kept August 15th as a regional holiday, while all the other regions changed it to give workers an extra day’s rest. 

Many people across Spain will be taking the advantage of the puente as it is called in Spanish or bridge, getting away for the long weekend by taking this weekend as holiday days too. 

READ ALSO – Spanish Word of the Day: ‘Puente’

When is the next public holiday? 

After Monday, the next national public holiday won’t be until October 12th, celebrating the national day of Spain, however, some regions will have their own public holidays before then. 

For example, September 11th, is La Diada in Catalonia, celebrating the National Day of Catalonia. 

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