Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Nit de l'Alba

Elche, one of our local cities, is famous for its palm forest and for its mystery plays. Well, famous enough for them to be given World Heritage status anyway.

The mystery plays are on at the moment. Famous as they may be what the punters actually turn out for is the Night of Dawn (nit de l'alba).

From 11.15pm until close to midnight on the 13th August tons of fireworks are fired into the air. The noise is deafening. The sky crackles with light. The air is heavy with smoke. Rocket sticks and sparks shower down all over the city and everyone old enough to set fire to any sort of firework joins in before, during or after the main event. As the whizz bangs die away the power in the centre of the city is turned off, the streets go dark, and the grand finale begins. A choir sings out and, as their voices fade away, the tower of the Basilica is used as a launch pad for one gigantic firework that sends a column of flame hundreds of metres into the air. The show must be over.

But no it isn't. Young people now start to appear dressed in camouflage gear or boiler suits. Despite temperatures in the high twenties they wear gloves and balaclavas and then, in streets, specially set aside for the purpose, these young people set about fighting other groups of similarly dressed young people - their weapons, of course, are fireworks. The locals and tourists gawp.

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