Why is May 30th a bank holiday called Día de Canarias?
Today, May 30th, is Día de Canarias, a public holiday with many official events taking place and shops and offices closed, at least those away from the main tourist areas. The day celebrates the anniversary of the first official Parliamentary session of the islands on 30th May 1983, some 10 months after the Canaries became an official autonomous region of Spain in August 1982.
Apart from the formal and official events that are always held, the day is celebrated throughout the islands with a wide range of cultural events and festivities, usually organized by the local authorities, including a Baile de Magos, a dinner dance.
These are free to attend but anyone taking part must wear traditional Canarian clothing, and dinner is provided by the attendees themselves and served as an evening picnic on long communal tables whose places are reserved in advance. Needless to say, the music goes on for much of the night!
The Baile de Magos is thought to be so-called, following the Spanish conquerors of the island identifying the native Canarians as magos because although uneducated, from a Conquistador perspective at least, they had a culture and religion focused on nature and especially the stars.
How easy that would be to understand given the clarity of our night skies here in the islands, but really, it’s connected to the Canaries’ ancient worship of Magec, the Sun God.
For the incoming Spanish, it marked the ‘peasants’ out as magos, and since this word is connected with the Magi and ‘magic’, an ancient etymology indicating technique or skill, the Baile de Magos is often affectionately and familiarly known as the Magicians Ball!
Día de Canarias is also the last island-wide bank holiday until Asunción de la Virgen on August 15th.
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