Today, December 8, Spain has a national public holiday on the day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is a religious celebration observed by many Christians, mainly Catholics, around the world.
Some churches organise processions through the streets but, on checking the internet, I was unable to find any details of one in the whole province of Almeria. Of course, most Catholic churches will each be holding a special Mass today.
The feast focuses on the belief that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin but that does not mean that she was conceived without sexual intercourse. The Catholic church, of which I am not a member, teaches that Mary was conceived by St Anne through conventional means – her father being St Joachim. What ‘immaculate’ means is that, despite her conception being the result of sex, Mary was kept free of original sin.
I think it is important to emphasise that the Immaculate Conception has nothing to do with the other belief that Mary gave birth to Jesus while remaining a virgin.
Theological controversy, in which this blog is not getting involved, surrounded the feast of the for centuries. Many theologians throughout Christian history, including St Thomas Aquinas, questioned the Immaculate Conception.
It remained open for debate for many years until Pope Pius IX proclaimed it to be an essential dogma in the Catholic Church on December 8, 1854. The written document on this is known as the Ineffabilis Deus. Since then, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the belief that Mary was born without sin and that God chose her to be Jesus’s mother.
Ok, that’s enough about religion!
The weather here continues to be enjoyable and so very different from that we experienced in the UK in December or that Lisa remembers about this time of year in her native New York city. Here, today started sunny and with a clear blue sky but it was cold with a temperature of only 8˚C/46˚F. Since then it has warmed up considerably and, as I write this, it is now a comfortable 14˚C/57˚F.
Going out and about, there is plenty of evidence of political activity with banners everywhere exhorting voters to choose one party or another in the General Election on the 20th. And there are a host of parties to choose between when making a decision.
A couple of things about the election that do seem to be a good idea is that publication of opinion polls are prohibited in the last few days before voting takes place and campaigning has to end two days before election day. The very last day is set aside as a day of reflection; a day free from being badgered by one or more of the parties vying for power.