The Real Renaissance Was No Festival for Ordinary Folks

By Marta Rodriguez-Noriega Nava, PAW Writer

The annual Renaissance Festival in Shakopee is a great place to go for food, fun and relaxation after a long week of hard work. It ́s a place where you will not be bored because there are a lot of things to see and do. Kings and queens strutting around, lots of food, entertainment, comedy, theater and games. . The only problem with the Festival is, it is not quite like real life in the 14th through 17th centuries.

The Renaissance began in Florence, Italy. In the beginning, most people were poor. Good food was hard to find, unlike the Festival where you can find all kinds of food and drinks in almost unlimited quantities. At the Festival, actors and some of the visitors wear elaborate costumes. During the early Renaissance times, the ordinary people were poorly dressed in linen or wool, not velvet and jewels. Their homes had dirt floors and very little privacy. Most people lived their entire lives in the same village, and rarely left those villages for festivals or parties or any other reason because it was just too dangerous to travel. Church was at the center of their lives.

Life changed when the Black Death swept through Europe. People died by the hundreds of thousands. There was such a labor shortage that the nobility was forced to hire the remaining workers to do the work on their estates, and pay them for the work. With cash in their pockets, the ordinary people could get better food and even spend some money on fancy clothes. Towns grew and wider varieties of entertainment became available, like festivals. But even with more money, better clothes, and more comfortable houses, royalty and the ordinary people did not hang around with each other in the village square.

The Shakopee Renaissance Festival may not be historically accurate but so what? It’s entertainment, not a history lesson. Oh, and about those turkey legs people are munching on at the Festival; there were no turkeys in Europe. The tasty birds were first encountered by the colonists when they came to the New World. So, who ever invented the Renaissance Festival didnt think about history, they thought about the fun that people could have and that’s what is about, make people want to come again to this modern medieval  place year by year.

Minnesota está bien, pero no es Madrid

If you don’t come to Spain, Spain will come to you.

Three new students from Spain arrived at Providence Academy this year to study and experience a different culture. When someone from another culture comes to Spain, most people want to know about  them. People ask me questions like, “Do you like Providence so far? Do you like the food? How about the teachers, do you like them? Do you like Minnesota? Is it different from Spain?” To the last question I have to say a huge YES. But I think 97% of the people who d come to me have one question in common: “Do you know Beltrán?”. I am so impressed with his popularity trough all the school. The answer is yes, I met Beltrán three times (he was an exchange student from Spain last year), and the other exchange students knew him before me.

Minnesota and Spain are completely different. First is the weather. You have extremely cold winters, and back to Spain they are more “light”. Winter in Spain is still cold for the people who live there, even though the average temperature last winter was 46 degrees. On the other side we have hot summers. This summer, the average temperature in Madrid was 86 degrees.

The food is also quite different. The best-known traditional plate in Spain is the paella, a dish made with yellow rice, vegetables, and ether seafood or meat. Another traditional plate is the Spanish omelet made with egg and potatoes. If you go to Madrid someday, I recommend you try our cocido madrileño. It´s a stew with a kind of bean called a chickpea, and more things like chorizo sausage, carrot, cabbage and other ingredients that give the soup a special taste. A good grandmother in Madrid knows how to make the best cocido.

Aquinas America School, the school where I come from, has many differences from Providence Academy. As we have lunch at 2:25, we have six periods of classes in the morning, before lunch; and they are separated into two by a half an hour of free time. After these, we have another three periods of 50 minutes each with five minutes between each class. Then we eat lunch and go outside for one hour. Then we go into school and in two hours we have our “pink and light blue classes”. School starts at nine o´clock in the morning and we finish at five o´clock in the afternoon.

As you can see, there are many things in Spain that are different from USA, so don´t be afraid to leave your home, you are always welcome in our city.

(Marta Rodriguez-Noriega Nava is a sophomore exchange student from Pozuelo de Alarcón, Spain)