Three Spanish Festivals You May Not Have Heard Of
|November 12, 2012||Posted by under Events|
From the running of the bulls in Pamplona to the riotous Tomatina in Buñol, Spain is home to some best-known festivals in Europe. While running for your life in abject terror, chased by tons of enraged cattle can indeed be thrilling, it is not the only way to experience a traditional Spanish Fiesta. There are hundreds of lesser-known festivals that occur throughout Spain annually, each a window into traditional Spanish culture and tradition. So when the crowds of tourists head for the big headline grabbers, those looking for an experience ‘off the beaten path’ should check out these alternative festivals for a view of a Spain less often seen….
Carnival (entroido), Laza, Galicia
Continuing the age-old Spanish tradition of ‘throwing stuff’, the inhabitants of Laza in the far-northern Galicia region have given the activity a bizarre twist. Their Carnival or entroido celebrations include the flinging of ants at each other. The fun begins when some poor, unsuspecting bystander is hit in the face with a muddy rag. . A two hour mud fight ensues, during which time the young men of the town go into the countryside and dig up anthills, which they collect in large sacks. The sacks are taken to the village, doused in vinegar to liven the ants up, and a huge ‘ant fight’ then begins, with people slinging the ant-filled dirt at each other, pushing it down peoples clothes and throwing it at each other’s faces. It really is f-ant-astic…. *boom tish*
‘El Colacho’, Castrillo de Murcia
If insect-projectiles aren’t your thing, why not head down to the picturesque town of Castrillo de Murcia for some baby jumping? Ever since 1620, the town’s Corpus Christi celebrations have involved an act known as ‘El Salto del Colacho’, in which men dress as Satan and jump over babies who lie on a mattress in the street. While this may seem some sort of reckless baby-based Russian roulette, it is in fact said to purge the town of evil and cleanse the children who participate. Great honour is bestowed upon the babies involved, who also have an interesting story to tell in later years when asked ‘how did you get that footprint-shaped indent on your head….?’
Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme, Las Nieves
Paganism and Catholicism merge during the Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme, as the Galician town of Las Nieves plays host to what is arguably one of the most surreal and macabre festival celebrations anywhere in the world. Santa Marta is the patron saint of resurrection and in honour of her, those who have had a near-death experience within the last year ride to church for mass in a coffin. Family members in funeral dress carry the coffins to the small, granite church of Santa Marta for the service, and then up to a nearby cemetery afterwards in a procession. Offerings are given to the saint, and the people chant “Virgin Santa Marta, star of the North, we bring you those who saw death”. The ceremony is a particularly bumpy emotional roller-coaster for the old men of the town without families who (somewhat prematurely) have to lug their own coffins up to the church themselves.
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