1 January 2016


....... is New Year's Eve - December 31st, the last day of 2015! Today you'll find the supermarkets packed as women and men buy many good and tasty items for their dinner later in the evening. This is another occasion when families meet together to eat and enjoy. Turkey seems to be on the menu in many homes. A fish dish is another must. I can hardly believe the prices of seafood at this time of year. Baby eels are a delicacy. 1000€ a kilo! ($1100US - $1500CAD). Lobster was selling for 100€ a kilo! A Spider Crab could be bought for 100€ each! Sea Bass - 40€ a kilo! Folk here may not go in debt as far a buying gifts, but they sure go all out to make a meal extra special!

There are no New Year´s Eve church services! In Basqueland I remember meeting together with the church folk. We'd all take a dish to share. At 9:00 or 9:30 we'd sit down to nicely decorated tables and enjoy a meal together. Then we'd rearrange the chairs in a circle and have time to sing, give thanks to God for the past year and pray in the new year. Celebrations continued with desserts, games, charades and "chocolate con churros" (a thick hot chocolate served with deep fried sweet dough sticks), until the early hours of the morning. Yes families would be there with their children. The little ones would eventually fall asleep.

Monument to Jaime I
Palma City Hall
December 31 is also "La Festa de L'Estendard" = the Festival of the Banner or "Festival of the Conquest". This is the day when Mallorcans commemorate the day, in 1229, when the Spanish King James 1 along with his troops, conquered the city of Palma after centuries of Arab domination. This festivity goes back to the 13th century. It's one of the oldest festivals in Europe. In front of the City Hall the ceremony takes place - bands, mounted police, drummers, folk dancers, followed by a mass in the nearby Cathedral and the reading of a poem about this event in history, - "so that all will remember the importance of this day!" The evening before a floral tribute is placed by the monument of King James I in another central plaza of the city.

It is good to remember the past year and what God has done. It is good to remember the history of our country too. It's good to share these important things with our children and grandchildren - as the children of Israel often did. Joshua 4 - after the people crossed over the Jordan, 12 stones were set up as "a memorial to the children of Israel forever." (vs. 7 - NKJV)

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