May 15th is the Feast Day of San Isidro and a popular public holiday in Madrid. San Isidro, the Patron Saint of Madrid, was a poor farmer who performed such miracles as making a spring gush by banging on the ground while he was ploughing sometime in the 1100s. Madrileños celebrate their Patron Saint by dressing in traditional costumes called "castizo" and dancing the "chotis". The men (chulapos) wear flat check caps, waistcoats and handkerchieves around their necks while the women (chulapas) wear elegant dresses, red flowers atop their heads, head scarves and shawls.
These photos were taken by me at a family-oriented fiesta in La Pradera de San Isidro (the San Isidro Meadow) where a hermitage was built on the site of the saint's gushing spring miracle. Legend has it that this hermitage's water fountain streams holy water with healing properties - it brought Prince Philip back to health in 1528!
This long weekend is full of celebratory activities: concerts, fireworks, theatre, zarzuela, street comedy, ballroom dancing under the stars, a Cocido Madrileno (a hearty chickpea and meat stew) cook off, and it also kicks off the bullfighting season. I'm going to my first bullfight on Saturday to experience the blood lust for myself... the ritual slaughter of animals makes me a little queasy but I feel it's an important cultural spectacle to experience once while in Spain. So I'll let you know how it goes in Sunday's post.
Feliz dia de San Isidro!