Friday, April 1, 2011

Pascua Florida Day

I confess I have lived here for a while, longer than I lived anywhere except the house I grew up in, but this year is the first time I have ever heard of Pascua Florida Day.  This is doubly odd as it IS the state holiday & my husband works for the state.  Pascua Florida Day is actually April 2, but this year Florida is observing it on -you guessed it- April Fool's Day. 

It is just too easy to make fun of Florida (recently a state representative was reprimanded for using the word "uterus" while talking about abortion rights); fool doesn't really seem like enough. So, let's stick to tomorrow's holiday today.

When Ponce de Leon first discovered Florida (& he was here first, no matter what the Timocua thought), he named the place for the flowers that were all around him (Florida = Land of Flowers).  Specifically, he named it for the easter-time feast of flowers or Pascua Florida.  I went looking for information about Pascua Florida but it turns out there are A LOT of spanish flower festivals.

Every school child knows (well, when I was a school child I knew) that Ponce de Leon was looking for the Fountain of Youth.  The gold every other spanish explorer put at the top of his list is just sort of implied.  He didn't find it but every little-bit older school child knows/knew that for much of the 20th century the people moving to Florida were still looking for the Fountain of Youth; at the end of the last century, 20% of the population was over 62 or older, while nationwide less than 15% of the population was over 62.   Plenty of other people come here to recapture youth temporarily, they tend to hang out & about around Disney.  Lost youth is big business here.  Anyone who has taken a look at the state of education knows that current youth doesn't have quite the same importance.

Don't get me wrong, I love it here.  I would have a lot of trouble uprooting & moving someplace else, even some place that used to be on my top ten I wish I lived there list (which Florida never was).  Still when I hear things like "as California goes, so goes the nation" I think about Florida, because here just might be where good old bad ideas come to revisit their lost youth.

In the end, Ponce de Leon was killed by a poison dart from the manchineel tree (the dart was dipped in the poison, I think, not made from the wood although I am told the wood IS poisonous, so maybe) a tree which has both male & female reproductive parts on a single plant.  Also, the flowers are really not all that much to look at, but they do pack quite a wallop.

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