Yumi La Blanca
Almond blossoms in the springtime - Awakening the spring of arts
Spring has come
In London at the end of February, as the weather gets warmer, my husband and I decided to end our hibernation period and gradually resumed walking exercises again. We detected the warmness of the outside air and the energy of sunshine at the beginning of spring.
In England, we usually sense the arrival of spring-tide by the host of daffodils cropping up. In Japan, where I grew up, while cherry blossoms are nationally regarded as the flowers of spring, Japanese-plum blossoms are earlier awakeners of the season. This type of flower that hints at the emergence of very young springtime also exists in Spain. Among several kinds, I feel that almond blossoms are probably the ones that trigger the transfer from wintry silence to flowery scenery.
As the edible seeds, Spain is the second largest producer of almonds after the USA. There is no wonder why almond blossoms can be appreciated on a large scale in Spain. In Gran Canaria, in fact, people celebrate ‘la fiesta del almendro en flor’ (festival of almond blooming) with music and dance as well as almond delicacies, usually in the first weekend of February. We could peep how this social gathering would usually be held with the blooming of almond flowers, if it hadn’t been cancelled this year due to the pandemic:
Fiesta del Almendro en Flor en Valsequillo de Gran Canaria 2015
Almonds in flamenco coating
Almond occasionally appears as a motif in flamenco too. The most famous example would be ‘Tangos del Almendro’ by Lole y Manuel. Here, we can imagine the almond blossoms make their presence at the blink of the disappearing of chilly winter, predicting the footsteps of spring:
Tangos del Almendro by Lole y Manuel (1988)
In 2020, Lole sang this legendary song with another renowned female singer Estrella Morente. Filmed just before the global lockdown, they both appear as beautiful and powerful as flowers of unique kinds:
Estrella Morente y Lole Montoya - Tangos del Almendro (2020)
Another song, ‘Caminito del Almendro’ by Los Delinqüentes, was a popular danceable rumba often heard in Spanish bars and parties when the term 'social distancing' didn’t exist. Here, we can’t detect even a petal of almond flower, but we can picture the scenery in which almond trees humbly but profoundly take root in the dry Spanish soil:
Caminito del Almendro, Los Delinqüentes
In Camarón’s ‘La Flor del Almendro’, the symbol of almond appears in a more poetic mood. In this song of Bulerías, the plant isn’t just a synonym of beauty; rather, it’s a metaphor of a girl who is pretty on the outside but bitter on the inside, just like the contrast between the sweet flowers and the hard seeds:
La Flor del Almendro, Camarón de la Isla
Just like the almond blossoms awaken the spring, we’re (hopefully) lifting up our spirits to be ready to resume our social lives sometime soon, wishing for the cultures and arts to flourish in full bloom.