Saint Isidro is the patron saint of Madrid, and today is his day. In fact, the celebration will last until Sunday: concerts for all ages and tastes, dancing, parades, fireworks, theater, bullfights, and even people dressing up in the traditional local costume. [Full schedule here.]
People from Madrid are called "cats," and the cat in this year's festival logo is wearing the traditional cap, white ascot, and checked vest for men. Women wear a flounced polka-dot dress, carnations in their hair, and a white headscarf. A streetwise, brash, urban attitude is essential for both sexes.
A few years back, I celebrated the festival by reading Saint Isidro's hagiography. He was born in 1087 in Madrid, at the time a small farm village. He worked as a farm hand for local landlords, and is credited with 204 miracles, many of which he accomplished after his death at age 90. One that occurred during his lifetime shows his love for God's creatures, according to the hagiography:
He and some other farmer hands were carrying sacks of wheat to a mill in winter when they passed a flock of shivering, starving doves. Isidro stopped and spread grain from his sack on the ground until they had eaten their fill, then continued on with a half-full sack. His companions were astounded when they arrived at the mill, for his sack had become full to overflowing and produced twice as much flour as their own.
Thus we know that God approves of bird feeding. Go thou and do likewise.
¡Viva San Isidro!