Here in Catalonia, it's a Japanese girl's favorite day--Erection Day! This afternoon on the TV3 news, as is traditional, the first fifteen minutes were devoted to film of the various candidates depositing their ballots in the plexiglass urns. The results will be announced at 9:30 PM tonight, which would be 3:30 Eastern time in the US. Iberian Notes will liveblog them.
According to an October 15 survey quoted in La Vanguardia, Catalans identified the following as "principal problems at this moment":
Health care 24%
Government finances 15%
Use of Catalan 13%
Looks like citizens' priorities are pretty clear. Housing prices are through the roof and significant Third World immigration is just beginning to affect Catalonia. Esquerra Republicana was playing the immigration card so heavily for a reason. People appear to be pretty content with the educational and health care systems, both of which provide fairly decent service for huge unwieldy government bureaucracies. And nobody gives a rat's ass about the language question except for the fanatics; I'll bet that 13% who think use of Catalan is a problem are exactly the same 13% who vote for Esquerra.
Wacky Anti-Americanism Watch: Halloween, as you probably know, was yesterday, and today is Todos los Santos, All Souls' Day, when Spaniards traditionally go to visit their ancestors' graves at the cemetery. I remember back in the mid-70s, when I was a kid, Halloween was basically a kids' holiday, and it wasn't really that big a deal. I don't remember adults participating, except to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. Now, in the States, it's an excuse for adults to dress up and get drunk, and it's become one of the major celebrations of the year.
Some smart European marketers decided they'd try to sell Halloween junk over here and tried to introduce the holiday into Europe. They've had some success--by now everybody has at least heard of Halloween--but it's still most distinctly socially tainted as an American custom.
So, according to La Vanguardia,
Father Joan Maria Canals, Director of the Spanish Bishops' Conference's Episcopal Committee on Liturgy said that when a loved one dies, children are kept away from the corpse, while during the Halloween holiday, based on fear, death, the living dead, black magic, and mystical monsters, minors dress up using these elements. "Death is not a game or a party to have fun one day a year. What idea of death is left in the heart of the child who has dressed up as a skull and has been playing?" wondered Canals. "On one hand, schools and parents encourage their children to dress up on Halloween, and on the other, when the death of a loved one arrives, what happens?" In his opinion, Halloween must be given "a Christian meaning," since it is celebrated on the day on which the Catholic Church "recalls the memory of all those who are now in Heaven contemplating the Lord."
I think this guy might be taking the whole thing a bit too seriously. Wonder how he'd react to Mexico's Day of the Dead? That's even more morbid than Halloween. Oh, wait, it's Hispanic and Catholic. Must be OK.
Hell of a soccer game last night as Barcelona and Chelsea tied 2-2 at the Camp Nou. Barça dominated for most of the match, but Chelsea is a great team and was able to pull out a draw in extra time. Lots of good plays by both teams in a rough game. Ronaldinho is back in form. Barça now has to win its two remaining games, against Werder Bremen at the Camp Nou and against Levski in Sofia. If they can't do that, they don't deserve to advance.