If your children attend a Spanish nursery or primary school, the likelihood is that their teachers are preparing them for the celebrations of San Isidro in Madrid. One of the hidden joys of parenting in Madrid, this festival is something you must embrace no matter how tenuous your link to the capital city is! Check out this article to find out where to go and what to do during San Isidro with kids.
Your child will be expected to wear traditional outfit so that they turn out as chulapos (boys) and chulapas (girls).
These outfits can be bought in any discount store as well as in the hypermarkets that are dotted across the capital city. Details are important though, so make sure your son’s outfit includes the checked flat cap (parpusa) and your daughter’s outfit includes an embroidered manila shawl (mantoncillo) and a carnation.
The stunning red carnation is Spain’s national flower, a beautiful representation of the robust love and joy that our hosts feel for their country. Although most off-the-shelf chulapa costumes will include a single red carnation for your daughter to wear in her hair, pay close attention to the traditional outfits worn by the locals to spot the subtle differences between them. Our little girls should traditionally wear a single pink carnation in their hair. Look out for widowed chulapas who will wear three carnations in their hair: two red and one white. A married chulapa will be wearing two red carnations; a single chulapa has two white ones and if she has a steady boyfriend she will wear one red and one white carnation in her hair. Our boys have it easier: a single red carnation on their lapel. For more information (in Spanish) click here.
The square dance
The bravest teachers among us try to teach our youngsters the tradional chotis square dance, a variation of the German polka which was known as the “Schottisch”. A tip from Kids in Madrid: our boys should wear dress shoes rather than rubber-soled shoes in order to make it easier for them to slide to the moves! Girls, with their heeled red or polka dot court shoes, make slow deliberate moves from one side to another, elegantly criss-crossing their legs in moves that are beautiful when mastered but rather clumsy at preschool age 😊.
Many primary schools lay on their own particular verbena: an afternoon party in the playground with traditional dancing, old-fashioned games, home-made lemonade and hot chocolate served with barquillo wafters (crisy biscuit rolls). Don’t be surprised to see many of your kids’ classmates’ parents dressed in costume and joining in the fun!