The Christmas season in Spain starts today, the first day of what's known as the Immaculate Constitution Bridge.
December 6 is Constitution Day because Spain's current constitution was ratified by voters on December 6, 1978. It was a big improvement over the previous governmental system, which was a dictatorship, so there was much rejoicing.
The Constitution would have been read out loud today in celebration, but a number of public acts were canceled because it is also a day of official mourning. The Civil Guard shot by Basque separatist terrorists on Saturday died yesterday. A few hours earlier, two of the three terrorists who killed him and his partner were arrested.
December 8 is the Immaculate Conception, the celebration of the conception of the Virgin Mary, free of the stain of original sin. Churches will be open for vigils and prayers.
So you have two public holidays but a workday in between them. Very inconvenient. So Spaniards construct a vacation day "bridge" between them -- either people take a day of vacation, or they just call in sick from their vacation home in the mountains or at the beach.
Put it together, add a dash of the Spanish sense of humor, and you get a holiday unofficially called the Immaculate Constitution Bridge. If the two holidays fall on a Tuesday or Thursday, you can build an "aqueduct" and take the whole week off.
Now it's time to start shopping, as if we haven't been shopping already. The City of Madrid turned on its 9 million lights (three per person) on November 26 to encourage us. The average Spaniard will spend €951 per person, or about US$1,425.