Christians mark the seventh Sunday after Easter as Pentecost, in
remembrance of how Jesus’ apostles reaffirmed their faith after
encountering the Holy Spirit. In northern Europe it is also
observed as Whitsuntide, a salute to spring in which white is the
theme of the day in apparel, bouquets, and food. In southern Spain,
warm weather is taken for granted but fresh water is not, so
celebrants make pilgrimages–called romerias–to rivers and
springs to honor the Virgin Mary. The roots of this tradition,
which includes elaborate picnics, go back to festivals honoring
pagan goddesses like Artemis and Diana. For young men and women it
was traditionally a chance to slip away from rigid sexual
supervision to frolic in the fields. Elisabeth Luard in her new
book, Sacred Food (Chicago Review Press, $35), proposes that
you plan your own romeria with a lunch of homemade paella in the
fresh spring air. And then frolic in your own fashion.

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