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Doing it Canarian Style
Canarians do things their own way. A reminder of this came recently when I read about the results of a recent investigation into the old churches of the island.
Since 325 AD, churches in Europe have usually been built with their altars facing the east, allowing congregations at morning mass to see the sun rise. However, on Lanzarote several churches don’t follow this rule. Researchers wondered if this had something to do with the sun-worshipping beliefs of the original natives of the island. Their conclusions, however, showed a simpler explanation.
The oldest churches on Lanzarote follow the east-facing rule, but after about ten years islanders started building their churches with altars facing north-east. The reason? When the altar of the church faces in that direction, it means the doors at the other end of the church are protected from the north-eastern alisio wind that constantly blows on the island.
It’s a story that raises a smile, but it also shows that Canarians have always adapted to their landscape, their climate and their nature in their own practical ways. This month, on Canary Island Day (30th May), these islands will celebrate a native culture that is closely linked to Europe and South America, but which also has its own, unique identity – an identity that is always changing and adapting.
This month’s Ironman race is an example of how that identity changes, and on the 26th, as Ironmen and women pedal their way up the gruelling hills in the north of the island and curse the wind blowing into their faces, they can at least draw some comfort from the fact that they’re continuing an age old Lanzarote tradition.
Enjoy the mag.
May 2018 Edition
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