'El Aplauso': Spanish residents in lockdown cheer for health workers
Rahul Pathak in Madrid
“It's a metaphorical way to thank the people.”
These were the words of Madrid resident and father of two Alfonso Gabriel.
At 20:00 every night, he and his family come out on to their balcony and join their neighbors in a round of applause to thank the healthcare workers who are on the frontline in the war against the COVID-19 coronavirus. It's been dubbed "El Aplauso," which means "applause" in Spanish.
"Now, we can't touch each other, so it's a way of showing our warmth to people. Spanish people are used to being warm with each other and at this moment we need something like this," said Alfonso, speaking to CGTN Europe from his central Madrid apartment.
Europe-wide outpouring of thanks
It started last Friday as a suggestion on the digital messaging platform WhatsApp to show support for the dedication of the Spanish healthcare workers. Now, every night at 20:00 it has become a national ritual.
Similar scenes have been playing out across Europe. A Twitter search for "balcony cheers" will bring up videos from France, the Netherlands, Croatia, Malta and Armenia.
Like many other European countries, Spain is in lockdown with people not allowed to leave their homes. So, for families like the Gabriel's, what developed as a show of support has grown into something much more powerful.
Increase in Solidarity
The message has now been adapted to include people working in supermarkets, transport and social services. All those local heroes that need to work in the face of such an enormous crisis.
In Europe and in Spain, especially where every new day seems to bring more apocalyptic headlines about the COVID-19 crisis, the increase in solidarity among local communities is one bright spot in a very bleak picture.
A new message is now circulating for Friday 20 March asking children to bring balloons out to the balconies across the country, so they, too, can play their part during these difficult times.
El Aplauso remains a powerful reminder of human spirit in the face of such adversity.