• 2020.12.28
  • Playing Doctor
I think no matter where you are, you will be having a Christmas that is entirely different to usual. That said, this year there will again be the long-awaited present season for the children. In Spain—a country so emphatically Catholic it is said to be más papista que el Papa (more papist than the Pope himself)—it has been the custom to give presents not on December 24, but on January 6th (the night of the 5th), 13 days after the birth of Christ, which is in keeping with the “Adoration by the Three Wise Men from the Orient,” as written in the Bible. This used to make the presence of Santa Claus hardly noticeable, who makes his appearance on Christmas eve, but with the influence of globalization and so on, and in combination with the commercial strategy of not missing out on such an appealing business opportunity, however, the presence of Santa Claus who delivers presents in December has grown year by year.

The toy industry, to whom the current gift-giving season is a business opportunity, has developed a new product to stir up children's longing, launching pretend play toys that reflect the world of today. I guess it is a kind of role-playing game where children pretend to be adults, like playing moms and dads, taking on various roles and doing the cooking, washing, taking care of the baby, or playing trains, and so on. This new product is, surprisingly, a variety of the pretending game “doctors” and its name is Virus Tester.

The set includes items such as masks, patient gowns, solutions for treating patients, stool and mucus tests, blood sampling, and treatment electrodes (?).

Blood is sampled from the buttocks.

Samples are collected from the diapers.

Adding the reagent gave a positive result.

Drip using a treatment like a soft drink (?).

They even use electroshock therapy!

Sterilization procedures are also performed.

The toy industry reflects the times as they are, with all the usual dress-up dolls wearing masks, and even a board game (Sugoroku) about eliminating the virus has joined the sales campaign.

Miss Nancy wearing a mask

Stop the Virus board game

By the way, there is a theory that Santa Claus was modeled on San Nicolás de Bari (Saint Nicholas), from the 3rd and 4th centuries BC. In the Netherlands he is called Sinterklaas and every year he comes by boat from Spain to give out gifts, but during the Spanish Civil War, the Dutch children were worried that “Sinterklaas might not be able to come this year because of the war” and when the government of the Republic of Spain at the time found this out, it brought gifts to those Dutch children in special planes. In return, tulips sent as gifts from the Netherlands decorate the streets of Madrid in spring.

This is San Nicolás de Bari (Saint Nicholas), on whom Santa Claus is said to have been modelled. He is also known as the patron saint of sailors, and by extension fishermen, as well as children, and in the background, he is depicted calming a rough sea. Faith in Saint Nicholas runs strong in the Netherlands, that maritime nation.

And yes, while I’m at it, here are two examples of the adoration by the Three Wise Men.

1: This tranquil, solemn adoration is a work by Velázquez at the age of 20, in his Seville period. (Collection of the Prado Museum)

2: This adoration is by Rubens, painted at almost the same time. Completely different to the Velázquez depiction, with, well, what can you say but a large and boisterous delegation intruding on the birth celebrations. (Collection of the Prado Museum)


  • Susumu Yamada
  • JobSpanish and Japanese Translation

It’s been almost 37 years since I received a residence permit and work permit from the Spanish government and paid my first tax and social insurance premiums. Now that I’m at that age where I will soon go and register at the senior human resources center, I’m grateful to have this opportunity to introduce you all to this country that has taken care of me these many years.

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