You might have noticed: in winter the fiestas in Málaga are less ‘olé‘.
There is the Big Boomer of New Years’ Eve in Coin coming up, that miniature version of carnival in Rio, but apart from that also the festive character of the Andalusians is hibernating: the events are much more intimate and serious in nature.
That does not mean they are less lovely or less unique. As for example this exquisite little jewel: the celebration of Inmaculada Concepción on December the 8th.
It is one of these little surprises that we as foreigners in inland Málaga can bump into, and reduce us to tears, and we don’t know why. Possibly it’s the feel of being reconnected to history, to our Christian roots or the evoking of simpler, purer days that gives us this chill down our spine.
Yes, celebrated possibly as early as the 5th century (in Syria) and in the Spanish Empire non-stop for the past 400 years, very little has changed or has been adapted to momentary fashion to this celebration – of the conception of the Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne.
Mary might be the only person in history who does not get birthday wishes, but a celebration of her conception (ergo: no fiesta on September 8th, but 9 months earlier).
According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, this stands for the Virgin Mary’s freedom of original sin by virtue of the foreseen merits of her son Jesus. Mind: the Church does teach that Mary was conceived by normal biological means, but God acted upon her soul at the time of her conception, keeping her ‘immaculate‘.
On that procession of the night of December 7th, for sure someone might want to start humming “Happy conception to you, happy conception to you” – and yet this is the magic of processions in inland Málaga: in all the sarcasm or irony of our post-modern 21st century, in which snow has become ‘traffic misery’ and the sky polluted, there are still moments in which we celebrate purity. Just like our forefathers did. It’s a moment of absence of centuries of luggage.
Hence why a procession, no matter how small, can trigger such an emotion in us?