San Isidro Festival, Spain

San Isidro Festival, SpainSan Isidro was a poor peasant who, nonetheless, was the benefactor of the poor and the needy. He, along with his wife, helped the poor by giving them food. Some miracles are also associated with him. To honor this Patron Saint of Madrid, a festival featuring fairs, music, dancing and bullfights is held. The festival commences from the 8th of May and continues till the 15th of May.

Open air concerts, rock concerts, and gigs make up the music scene. Dancing and merriment fill the streets of Madrid. San Isidro is also the biggest international bullfighting event. All the noted bullfighters, as well as the aspiring ones participate in this festival. Romeria, a pilgrimage to the 18th century chapel Ermita de San Isidro, is a way to show reverence to the Patron Saint.

San Isidro Festival, SpainOn the last day of the festival, the people of Madrid dress up in their traditional costumes and perform a traditional dance called “choti.” During the festival you can sample some Spanish delicacies such as barquillos, pan de angel, and chorus.

The festival ends with a mass scale cooking of Cocido Madrileno, the famous dish of Madrid. Although basically a religious festival, San Isidro has turned into one big entertainment.

Festival of the Crosses

Festival of the Crosses“La Fiesta de las Cruces” (The Festival of the Crosses) also known as “Cruz de Mayo” is celebrated in Spain on 3rd May.

Like some other Christian Festivals, it has pagan roots. During this festival, crosses made of flowers are installed in the city’s main squares and streets. Even the balconies of houses are decorated with floral crosses. These floral crosses are further decorated with other ornaments such as candlesticks and scarves.

Festival of the CrossesAlthough celebrated in many places of Spain, the cities of Granada and Cordoba are specially known for their remarkable display of floral crosses. A competition is held to pick the best floral cross later in the day.

Festival of the CrossesNo festival is complete without some sort of merry making and to complement this festival, temporary bars are set up where the locals gather to enjoy a few glasses of wine and tapas. Every Spanish festival features flamenco dancing and “La Fiesta de Las Cruces” is no exception. Dancing continues till the wee hours of the morning.

Festival of the crosses is a festival that brings a lot of tourists to Spain. It is a reason of visiting Spain for many tourists. Spain has a very deep rooted culture. Any festival of Spain with the colors of its culture becomes popular world wide, and Festival of Crosses is no exception.

Ottery St. Mary’s Carnival

Ottery St. Mary's CarnivalOttery St. Mary is a unique carnival in which barrels coated with coal tar are burned and carried up and down the streets. What started this tradition and why; nobody knows for sure. All that is known is that the centuries old tradition either started as a way of warning the approach of Spanish Ships, or to kill the rats when the black death plague had enveloped the country, or maybe to fumigate the cottages. Another popular reason could be that the burning of tar barrels warded off the evil spirits.

Whatever the reason be, it is a very interesting and somewhat risky festival. Originally the torched barrels were rolled down but to add excitement to the event, they are now carried on the backs. Not every one is allowed to carry a barrel; in fact some families are Barrel Rollers for generations. The barrels are lit outside a public house. It takes place on the 5th of November which incidentally is also the Guy Fawkes Day.

Ottery St. Mary's CarnivalA total of 17 burning barrels are carried throughout the day. The sizes of the barrels vary from small for boys to medium for women and youth and the big boys get to carry the big barrels which can be as heavy as 30 kg. The first barrel is lit at 4 o clock outside a public house and then carried through the streets. The process continues amidst cheering and applauding of the people until the last barrel is lit as the clock strikes midnight.

The event ends with a spectacular bonfire. The bonfire is an important part of the festival. Three weeks prior to the festival material is collected from the community. Just a week preceding the festival the bonfire is completed with a height of 35 feet and width of 50 feet. On the festival the Guy is placed at the top of the bonfire. In the evening the base of the bonfire is set ablaze and a manifestation of flame is viewed and enjoyed by all.

The Las Fallas Festival at Valencia, Spain

by on March 19, 2009
in Spanish Festivals

The Las Fallas Festival at Valencia, SpainThe Las Fallas Festival at Valencia, Spain

For lovers of the Carnival spirit, the Las Fallas Festival offers a heady mix of sights, sound and gastronomical pleasure aplenty. Valencia is one of Spain’s autonomous political regions. It isvery proud of its cultural heritage. The Festival spans twenty days in March not counting the preliminary festivities in February. The main attraction of the Festival is the total abandon with which the people of the Fallas (communities) celebrate the event. Alcoholic drinks are enjoyed liberally. Traditional food items are prepared on the streets and served fresh. Bunyoles, a kind of donuts,  baked fresh in abundance and eaten with hot chocolate.
Women and children dress up elaborately for the festive month and give a fairyland look to the city. Each Falla elects its Lady Mayor and Girl Mayor. They assemble and then vote to elect the Queen and Princess for the Festival. There is a grand event of decorating the Virgin with Flowers. A beautiful statue of the Virgin is erected at the “Square of the Virgin (Plaza de Virgin)” and entire communities converge at the Plaza to deck the Virgin with the choicest of flowers. The city is bathed in the heady smell of all the fragrances. Fire works of a wide variety are set off liberally. It is a real mystery to some why the Valencians have such a deep attachment to the deafening noises, despite many citizens losing their hearing faculty! It is my guess that the rich harvests that follow the Festival must have convinced the inhabitants that there is some real link.(The big bangs split atmospheric air and release Nitrogen which later fertilizes the soil.)