28 December is a dangerous day to be reading the news in Spain. It is the día de los inocentes, the country’s version of April Fools in the UK. Don’t believe everything you read on this date!
Where I live in Guardamar del Segura, Alicante, the town mayor has come up with a cracker. This morning he posted an image of film director Peter Jackson scouting out locations around the town ahead of a new King Arthur film in 2022. So many people fell for this one that I was actually wondering if it was a poorly-timed REAL news story, but I’m quite sure it was not!
In the north of Spain, Real Sociedad football club have joined in the fun in San Sebastian. They announced that their star player, Martin Odegaard, was joining Manchester City until the end of the season as it was easier than dealing with the constant speculation about a possible transfer. Many news outlets, including the BBC, have reported this one.
A few years ago I lived in Mataró, Catalunya. After a wet autumn a series of sink holes had appeared around that town. That gave the impetus for a story about the town’s symbol, a giant metal sculpture of a female archer, falling into a hole. Luckily this one was definitely an inocente joke and the iconic image can still be found on the southern edge of the town. Thanks to totmataró.cat for that one back in 2013!
The origins of this fun-filled day are believed to go back to the story of King Herod pursuing the baby Jesus. According to the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible, King Herod ordered that baby boys under 2 years old in Bethlehem were killed because he was afraid that the baby Jesus born there would become a rival. The baby Jesus had been taken away to Egypt though, so the “joke” was on Herod, and thus followed the tradition of tricking friends on that day. It may well be a sad story, but according to tradition the babies murdered in Jesus’ stead went to heaven as the first Christian martyrs.
There are other traditions and festivals around Spain on this day. One of the most intriguing takes place in Spain’s Toy Town, Ibi, in Alicante province. Els Enfarinats sees people dress up in military dress and attack each other with flour. It looks very messy indeed but must surely be a lot of fun!
So, if you read something on 28 December which seems too good to be true, or too extraordinary to be real, then check the date once again or you too may be forced to admit “¡Estoy Inocente!“