- Typical Spanish... Spanish superstitions
- Featured City... Sevilla (Lunes de Rocío)
- Famous Person... Antonio Mingote
- Spanish recipe... The Zarangollo
- Popular Sayiing... "Dame pan y dime tonto" (I don't care what people say as long as I get what want)
- Vocabulary... Nautical terms in Spanish
- Word of the month... Entrañable (Endearing)
- Notices: Enforex renews itself on social networks
Are we Spaniards superstitious? Of course, not any more than other people in the world, contrary to what many may think (let’s make clear that the image of the bewitched Spain that avoids evil and is afraid of spirits is a relic from the XIX Century Romanticism). Nonetheless, we are going to tell you some of the "typical Spanish" superstitions, and to try to understand them. Some of them have been integrated in our behavior, without us realizing it, so it’s always good to remember where they come from.
- A hat on the bed: it used to be one of the most typical ones but, as you can imagine, it has succumbed due to the fact that the hat is no longer a common use garment. If your headdress was placed on the bed is either meant that you’d lose your memory or that you would die soon. The relationship between the two is unknown, but we suspect that it has to do with the expression "losing the head" (which means both dying violently and becoming senile).
- Giving salt on the hand: we all know how spilling salt brings bad luck because aforetime salt was essential in every house (it served to preserve the food and was expensive, so its loss could be a real tragedy); but, why do superstitious Spaniards don’t pass each other the salt shaker from hand to hand? Because in case the one to whom the salt was being passed to has shaky or clumsy hands and lets it drop, the bad luck would be for us: technically, it’s as if we ourselves had spilled the salt.
- Not stepping on nor killing insects in the Santiago’s Way: it’s a lesser known belief, but anyone who has walked the Santiago’s Way probably has heard it from some of their fellow pilgrims. Legend says that many pilgrims were kidnapped and tortured by idle witches: so it seems, their favorite spell was turning the poor weary travelers into flies, bugs, worms… so that, given their size, arriving to Santiago de Compostela would take them an eternity. So beware and respect the small creatures that will accompany you to Santiago’s Cathedral.
- Dreams that are told never come true: it’s common saying that if you have a happy dream it will end up coming true, maybe because since it’s not clear if it’s real or not, the event may well have happened in the real world or in the dream world. This is good for nightmares, too: if they’re told, they won’t come true. What’s the origin of this? Some say that, due to its philosophical content, this particular superstition could have come from a cultivated and superstitious (these don’t have to be conflicting terms) bloke, impressed by Calderón de la Barca’s verses which stated that "for all of life is a dream / And dreams, are nothing but dreams".
- Saying "Jesus" to a person that sneezes: if you are or have been in Spain it probably caught your attention the fact that, when someone sneezes, people say "Jesus" to him or her instead of wishing them health. The reason for this is that the son of God is named so that the soul of the sneezer doesn’t escape out of his body through his mouth or nose. With the years, we have forgotten that explanation and we Spaniards say "Jesus" in those circumstances almost unconsciously, as a habit.
- Leaving a pair of scissors open: : the Mediterranean tradition has three very important figures, the Fates. They were three old sisters that spun, wound, measured and cut the thread of life. You can imagine the terror that can be awoken by an open pair of scissors unexpectedly found on the table or in the kitchen: it would be as if death was pointing at you.
- Rubbing a lottery ticket on a bold headed person: we know that it’s a modern tradition, though we don’t know how modern. It seems that a lottery ticket that has been rubbed on a bald man’s head will get the prize. Yeah… I know... pretty weird. A lot of people think this may be because until not so long ago the Christmas lottery was advertised by a mysterious bald man representing luck, but the more aged Spaniards assure that the superstition is older that the commercial. It was probably a joke that thrived due to the very Spanish "just in case" precaution.
- The penultimate drink: not saying that you’ll have the last drink, just in case you die. When we were documenting ourselves we couldn’t believe it, because what we thought was a delay in the party’s ending, due to the legendary Spanish festive spirit, has turned out to be the evolution of a superstition. So it seems that the last drink can only be the one we have immediately before dying: also remember that, before being caught, Jesus had had his "last drink of wine" (the editorial staff is grateful to a tem member’s wife for having revealed this theory to us).
- Tuesday the 13th brings bad luck: in many countries the bad luck day par excellence is Friday the 13th. But in Spain it is Tuesday the 13th. The usual explanation for this is the combination of the fateful number (you know, that was the number of guests at the Last Supper), and the fact that Constantinople, last Christian bastion in Orient, fell to Turkish troops on May 29th, 1453. It was a Tuesday.
- The shame of the last crumb on the dish: if you have ever been out for some drinks with Spanish friends and you’ve got a tapa with them of -for example- olives, you probably had the chance to see how the very last one of the olives remains on the dish for an hour until someone says "come on… who eats the shameful one?". This tradition, so they tell us, dates back to post war times in Spain, in which, even though there was great hunger, it was impolite to eat compulsively.
- The white dots on fingernails are the lies one has told: we all know that the white dots on fingernails are due to a lack of calcium, but in the time when this was still unknown, and illness was taken as a punishment for a bad deed, this minuscule dots betrayed the one who had committed a lesser wrong such as lying..
- That three people share a match or a lighter: this superstition is though to be very modern and, because of this, it lacks the supernatural element in the others. The explanation given to it dates back to Civil War times: it wasn’t recommendable that three smoker soldiers shared a flame on night watches, for a sniper would see the shining and shoot in the dark in the time it takes to light three cigarettes.
- Playing the church bells in a storm for it to clear up: This is still put into practice at some villages, although more as a custom and a warning than as a remedy for bad weather. Some say that the belief was that the bells, as they swung, moved the air, which carried the clouds with it. Others believe that this was done to show God that his people were still faithful to him, and deserved brighter days.
- Saying "Veronica Ha-ha" three times in front of a mirror: this is a superstition that every Spaniard has heard at school. If that "name" is said that "number of times" in front of "that" bathroom or living room accessory, the revengeful ghost of that girl will haunt you for all your life... which won’t last too long from the day you invoke her. For what we know, no kid has dared to do it… nor has any adult.
There you have them, a few Spanish superstitions... but now that we realize, we’ve listed thirteen. So, even though we aren’t at all superstitious, we’re going to tell you, to break the bad luck of the number and have fourteen, that around here it’s also believed that being superstitious brings bad luck!
Sevilla (Lunes de Rocío) Mayo
You have most certainly heard about the famous "Virgen del Rocío" and the pilgrimage on her honor, which is one of the better known in Spain. This Pilgrimage ends precisely on the "Lunes de Rocío", which falls on the 28th of May this year, when the Virgin is taken in procession from her picturesque chapel located in Almonte (Huelva).
Yes... we’ve said Huelva. So what does Sevilla have to do with this, then? The answer is found in the devotion that many people of Sevilla feel toward that Virgin, leading many of them to walk the way of the procession through the rough Doñana land. What we’re talking about is not a short walk; it’s a twelve kilometer march. But, of course, the struggle is made more enjoyable by bonfires, dancing and good food. During the pilgrimage the most folkloric side of Andalucía can be noticed: flamenco dresses, Spanish guitars, dressed up carts… and the typically contagious joie de vivre of its people.
This joy turns into a curious mix of devotion and ecstasy when the pilgrims arrive to the chapel that shelters the "Virgen del Rocío" (also called "The White Dove"). They wait zealously for the procession to begin with the so-called "jumping of the fence", in which the people of Almonte take out the Virgin on their shoulders.
The procession, solemn and colorful, runs through Almonte. Thousands of devotees take part in it (remember that there are 108 fraternities). It is truly a must-see event. The tradition can be felt: no wonder then that the "Virgen del Rocío" was named the town’s patron saint in 1653. The funny thing is that the first fraternity dates back to 1648.
By the way, we must tell our international readers that there is a big chance that in their country this tradition can be experienced. There are associations (not fraternities) in Argentina, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Australia.
It may well be that this brief description is not enough for the reader, but the Rocío is something to be lived. A description of it is not enough. The best thing to do is walk the march, attend the jumping of the fence... and be one more "rociero" brother.
We’ve changed the celebrity of this month because the news is king. The last 3rd of April died in Madrid at age 93 Antonio Mingote, one of the most beloved and iconic illustrators and comic authors in Spain. A true institution.
He was born in Sitges, Barcelona, in 1919 the son of an erudite family. This meant several advantages: a good education –not at everyone’s reach at the time- and the comfort to develop his artistic pulse. Not be forgotten the natural talent: a proof of which is that a cartoon of his drawn at age thirteen was published in the supplement "Gente Menuda" of the weekly newspaper "Blanco y Negro".
He was oriented towards studying Philosophy, but when he was just seventeen years old the Civil War broke out. This is a controversial aspect of his biography for many authors, since he participated as a volunteer on the national side in the Carlist militia (on Franco’s side, to sum it up). The funny aspect of this story is that Mingote himself didn’t attach importance to this event: he belonged to a bourgeois and traditional family; the weird thing would have been for him to fight for the republican side. In fact, he used to tell many anecdotes about this period, like when he stated that he had been the first national soldier to enter Barcelona, not by cause of heroism or aggressiveness, but because he was already very fond of seeing his mother again (who couldn’t leave the city while the assault on it), or when he declared that he had never driven a car because he had a permit to drive tanks, and he was worried that he might had stuck to some tank driver funny little ways.
After the war he enrolled in the Academia de Transformación de Infantería of Guadalajara. In his free time he collaborates in the school’s newspaper as a cartoonist: with the pencils in hand again he wondered and got to the conclusion that he’d rather pursue an artistic career than a military one (when he had already achieved a commander rank).
In 1946 he relocates to Madrid and his career takes off in the humoristic magazine "La Codorniz" (another highlight of Spanish culture). Thanks to his talent, perseverance and perfectionism he made himself a name and the prestigious newspaper ABC summoned him as collaborator in 1953. It would be his work in that newspaper what made him famous, loved and acknowledged both in Spain and in other countries.
While he worked as a cartoonist he edited books like "History of Madrid" or "The Mus: history, technique and vocabulary" (we clarify that "Mus" is a card game Mingote was very fond of); he also wrote the booklet for the musical "The bear and the madrileño", and he even ventured into writing scripts for television.
This activity granted him being named member of the Royal Academy of Spanish Language in 1987, occupying the bench with the letter "r" in this institution. The subject of his acceptance speech was "The transition of the humor of Madrid Cómico to the humor of La Codorniz". This recognition didn’t mean a waning in his work, far from that he won several awards, including the Gold Medal of Fine Arts and was even named Marquis from the king of Spain himself (this title is equivalent to the English Sir for celebrities of the culture and the sports).
Nevertheless, the title that made him happier was the one of Honorific Mayor of the Retiro Park in Madrid. Mingote spent a lot of time walking around the famous Madrid park in search for inspiration or simply taking a rest. In fact, the mural that can be seen in Retiro’s Metro station is a work of his, and also many of his cartoons were set in gardens that resembled this park a lot.
There are many varied examples of his work. This is because Mingote worked until his last breath. He never retired (who would actually want to retire with a job like that?(. As we said already, he was constant, he loved his work and his mind worked spotlessly.
Maybe, as readers, you are missing a more "dynamic" biography. But, as someone once said, "if you dedicate yourself to art try to make your work interesting, not your life".
The fertile region of Murcia is renowned for its fresh and premium quality vegetables; no wonder that most of the region’s gastronomy is focused on them. So if you ever want to eat healthy food, while tasting a typically Spanish dish we recommend you this recipe.
Also because it is very simple to prepare. In theory it can be done with any vegetable you have at home, but the real zarangollo is made solely with onion, zucchini and eggs.
In the first place, you have to cut the zucchini in medium size slices, and the onion in rings (this is a basic step in order to get an authentic zarangollo). We salt the zucchini and briefly fry it in a pan with little oil in it; when the vegetable has released a bit of water we add the onion to it and simmer the mix.
After 20 minutes (remember that the fire should be low) we put in the eggs. The secret is breaking them directly on the onion and the zucchini. Don’t beat them prior to this action. While the mix is being cooked, beat the eggs with the vegetables until it all curdles. Before removing from the fire, try a bit and, if you feel it needs a bit of salt, add it on until it is to your taste.
The only thing left is serving it, either as a main dish, a side dish, or a tapa for your friends... or for you alone! What the heck! One also deserves a healthy and delicious treat every once in a while.
We were going to full stop this recipe on the previous paragraph, but we wouldn’t like putting an end to this section without recommending you that, if you have a friend in Murcia, try to convince his mother or grandmother to prepare this dish for you. Even though you might see it around in bars of other towns, nobody does it better than those who hail from Murcia. Home-made and traditional food in one dish!
"Dame pan y dime tonto" (I don’t care what people say as long as I get what want )
How many times have we feared doing something because, even though the result might be satisfactory for us, we would lose face by doing it? Let’s not try looking upright now, because it has happened to all of us. If not... why does this saying (which comes to mean that one shouldn’t worry about the criticism if there’s a worth wile reward in something for us) exist?
As many other sayings, this one puts us in an extreme situation: we are so hungry that we need bread. Given the case, would we be stopped by an insult when it comes to granting us with a good loaf? In case of necessity, words are nothing but words, and what matters is that we get some bread in our mouths; no one disputes that. Then, why do we lose time worried about other people’s opinion when an action is beneficial for us?
Watch out, we don’t want to approve to the old saying that states that "the goal justifies the means". Neither that personal benefit comes first. We just want to say that there’s no time to lose worrying about other people’s opinions when something can be beneficial for us.
Yes, it can be quite tricky. That may be the reason for this proverb to be considered on of the "problematic" ones. Every person can interpret it to their will, and is very possible that no two Spaniards have the exact same idea of its meaning. You may even encounter people that use it incorrectly, with the meaning that one has to play the fool sometimes to get what one wants. It may even happen to you that some people use it in an intended offensive tone, as saying "this person looks stupid, but gets what he wants by tricking everyone".
Well... the important thing is that you stick to this: do not worry what people may say if you are certain that you are acting correctly and for your own benefit. If we managed to get this clear, "give us bread and call us stupid".
Nautical terms in Spanish:
Us, residents of Madrid, Manchester, Kansas, Hanover and Toulouse have something in common: being from the interior, we have no clue of nautical terms and language. For us, reading a novel on ships and sailors brings an extraordinary effort with it. As we don’t want this to happen to you, here you have a list of some of the nautical terms in Spanish. In case you ever read a novel by Pérez Reverte or a translation of a Patrick O’Brian book.
- Amarrar (To moor): holding the ship at port with anchors, chains or cables. It is also used outside the sailing world as a synonym for "tying something up".
- Amura (Tack): this Word has two meanings; it can be the side part of the boat that narrows to form the bow or it can be the rope that fastens the mainsails to the bow.
- Babor (Port): The left side of the ship. In the darkness, it is the part of the ship with a green light.
- Barlovento (Windward): part from which the wind blows, in connection to a certain point or place. A town in Santa Cruz de Tenerife also has this name.
- Calado (Draft) : : the depth inside the water of the sunken part of the boat.
- Calado (Depth) : : it can also refer to the height of the water from the sea floor.
- Carenar (Careen): tilting the ship to clean or repair the hull. You’ve probably heard it on many pirates’ movies after a battle between the outlaws and the English Army.
- Embarrancar (To run aground): the word sounds harsh, and there’s a reason for that. This verb designates being abruptly stuck at a beach or shallow water. It can also be used as "getting stuck in a narrow place".
- Eslora (Length): the length of a ship from bow to stern. For some reason, it is one of the scariest facts that can be given about a submarine that is heading to destroy a cost town in the movies.
- Estribor (Starboard): the opposite side of Port, that is, the right hand side of the ship. In the darkness it can be recognized by the red light on it.
- Foque (Jib): it is the triangular sail that attaches to the mast that protrudes from the bow. It is usually torn when our ship flees the pirates.
- Popa (Stern): the back side of the ship. You may know this word from "The pirate’s song", a poem by the romantic poet Espronceda that opens with the verses "Con diez cañones por banda viento en popa a toda vela (With ten canyons on each side, wind on stern at full sail)".
- Proa (Bow): the front part of the boat. It is also mentioned in a poem, this time by Pablo Neruda, called "To a bow statue". It is not as famous as the one in which the stern is mentioned.
- Sotavento (Leeward): the opposite of Windward. The contrary side to the one from which the wind blows.
- Timón (Rudder): the metal or wooden part that allows steering the boat. The inland Spaniards find the name funny, because it reminds them of a character in Disney’s "The Lion King".
- Tripulación (Crew): group of people dedicated to the service and maneuver of the boat. Yes, the same people the Captain is always afraid will mutiny.
- Velamen (Sails): group of sails. The Real Academia remarks that it means the sails of a ship. Maybe because they fear that those boat-illiterate Spaniards may think it refers to the ones lit up at romantic dinners (explanation: in Spanish both candle and sail are expressed by the word "vela").
If we know that the word "entrañas" means entrails or guts in Spanish, this word can sound a bit disgusting to us. Nonetheless, it refers to something that touches us deep inside, something that can be intimate, affective, and that moves our body and reaches our heart. For example: the memory of our grandpa telling us a story by the hearth, or the little dog that stares at us with its huge eyes at the pet shop. Let’s say that something is "entrañable" not for its condition, but for the emotion it provokes in us.
However, the meaning of this word is changing. Nowadays, "entrañable" is a concept closer to the English term "cute". It has moved from describing a feeling of the recipient to describing a quality of the emitter. Let’s get it clear: a teddy bear doesn’t arouse a tender feeling in everyone, but everyone aggress that it is "entrañable". This hasn’t been picked up by the Real Academia de la Lengua yet, but it’s becoming the dominant sense of the term.
Could it be because we are living in a world in which being sensitive is acceptable but being sentimental isn’t? We are not going to deal with philosophic or social theories here; we leave those thoughts to the reader. We will only make you a single recommendation: that you use "entrañable" as it seems best to you. In the end, it is a word that is in full evolution process and any sense given to it can be coherent.
Social networks base most of their existence on change, renewal and adaptation to the user’s necessities. This is clear when a change takes place in our profile, wall or the look of the social network. These changes may well be a bit tiresome (specially, those concerning privacy, which we advise you check every now and then), but they are necessary.
But in the end there’s always the satisfactory reward of seeing your profile more visible, more "comfortable" to visit, and that allows your messages to arrive in a clearer fashion to your followers.
That’s why the Enforex team has got down to work with enthusiasm, and has renewed its profiles in the various networks on which it is present. For example, on Facebook and Google Plus, you can already see our new profile and our new wall: on both of them you’ll find our updates fast and easily... the friendliest way possible.
If we too change to evolve and improve, why shouldn’t we do it on social networks also? In our case, "adapt or die" has turned to "renew to improve".