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Today is the day of practical jokes in Spain!

Thursday 28th December 2017

JAVEA NEWS | Only Joking!

Did you spot it? Today is 'El Día de los Santos Inocentes' and it's very similar in spirit to April Fool's Day in the United Kingdom in that it is a day that people play practical jokes or pranks - known as 'inocentadas' - on people. When people get caught, the joker shouts: 'Inocente, inocente!'. The newspapers and other media get involved, reporting false news for people to figure out if it's a joke or not, which can be difficult sometimes! As has been the case with our story about the Alicante region offering a referendum on adopting GMT as its official time-zone (although there have been serious proposals in the past to change the whole of Spain to GMT in line with Portugal).

Why play practical jokes on December 28th? There are several theories, the most popular of which is a tenuous link to the biblical story of King Herod's massacre of young children in and around Bethlehem in an attempt to kill the infant Jesus. They were known as the "Santos Inocentes" - the "Holy Innocents" - because they were too young and innocent to have committed any sins. Today the religious aspect of the feast day has been largely forgotten and replaced by the pranks, the supposed justification being that Jesus escaped the hands of Herod.

The traditional joke is to put a puppet or a ragdoll - known as "monigotes" - on people's backs whilst celebrities from TV and screen are often made the butt of jokes on a TV special to raise money for a good cause. In some areas it's rather like the American phenomenom of "trick or treat" which children going from door to door, making plenty of noise and demanding a 'payment' to stop, normally something sweet like the traditional 'polvorones' that are sold at this time of year. And if you're dipping into the sugar bowl to sweeten your tea or coffee, check first as it's a popular trick to subsitute salt for the sugar! Some of the best news headlines have included reports of drink-driving checkpoints being removed for New Year's Eve to the rather morbid reports of a blaze destroying the Casa Rosada, Argentina's equivalent of 10 Downing Street or the White House.

The day is also marked by fiestas across Spain. In the village of Ibi, which is about 85km west of Xàbia, there is the famous fiesta of "Els Enfarinats" of which the central act is a pitched battle in the town square with flour, eggs and the essential fire-crackers. The fight takes place between a group of married men - the 'els enfarinats' - who take control of the village for one day, pronouncing a whole range of ridiculous laws and fining people who infringe them, and another group called 'la oposicio' - the opposition - who try to restore order. At the end of the day, the money collected through "fines" is donated to charity. It was re-established in 1981 and has become known as the world's greatest food fight (although the residents of Buñol are bound to disagree!). Although its origins remain unknown, it is thought to be a tradition that is more than 200 years old. In Jalance, 70 kilometres south-west of Valencia, there is the fiesta de Los Locos which features a crazy dance parade through the village, a tradition that has its roots in the 17th century.

We've published our fair share of 'inocentadas' over the past few years which included the proposal to drive a tunnel underneath the Montgó massif to link Xàbia with Dénia, the construction of a three-stage cable-car to the summit of Montgó itself, the revelation that the authorities of the Montgó natural park were to impose a toll to cross by vehicle to Dénia (click here), the proposal to charge foreign-plated cars to use the parking in the Arenal (click here) and, last year, the proposed independence of the Arenal zone (click here) So, for those who fell for our news about the proposal to adopt GMT along the Costa Blanca (click here for a painful reminder), we're sorry - but we can't leave it without shouting "INOCENTE! INOCENTE!" Stick the date in your diary: December 28th - if you hear something that's outrageous, it's almost certainly going to be so!

Bon Festes! Have a great New Year!


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