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Inter-Celtic 2014

Carlos recorded this old Galician “romance” with Noa and Vicente Amigo as a reminder that Jewish communities that had lived peacefully in Galicia for centuries were forced to leave Spain, yet they still managed to keep their old traditions throughout their diaspora, including many of these Medieval romances. Many left for Portugal, while some are said to have stayed and even kept their religion in private. In some areas peoples names and even their looks make one wonder about that past (such as Carlos’s grandmother Sara).

Those were hard time for Galicians too, as their nobility had taken the wrong party and the winners, the Catholic Kings started what was called “taming and castration of Galicia” that would last 300 or 400 hundred years, the “dark centuries”. It wasn’t too popular to be Galician at that time, it was a poor country and many had to emigrate and even hide their origin in order to succeed within the Spanish Empire. This is Christopher Columbus’ case, whose mysterious origins are believed by some to be of Jewish origin and Galician for others. He might as well have been both!

Lyrics of this “romance” collected in Galicia at the beginning of the 20th century talk about the “washerwomen of the night”, who were condemned to wash forever at night because they had caused abortions. It was impossible to free them from this malediction and if you tried they’d ghostly disappear, leaving behind a blood puddle. Many examples exist in the Celtic countries, especially in Brittany. The lyrics translation is: “It was moonlight night, it was a clear night. I walked by the river, back from the mill. I found a launderess, who was washing in the water and sang a song: girl that comes from the mill, girl that goes through the path, help me to wring my washed sheet. The washerwoman disappears like smoke, where the sheets she hang, a blood puddle she left… It was a moon night, it was clear night”.

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