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November is very nearly upon us and with it comes two Spanish traditions which, paradoxically, have been confused for many years by those who celebrate them: All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
The last Wednesday of August the Tomatina is celebrated once again, a modern tradition known to all that consists in a tomato fight in Buñol, near Valencia: a fiesta that was born because of a prosecution of a gang of youngsters that ended up in battle royal around 1945.
The next 24th of June, at night, Alicante dresses up in full regalia and fire. The city celebrates the feast of its Bonfires: an event that has often been unfairly considered as the “smaller version” of the Fallas. There is fire, spectacle, sculptures… even the use of the same terms as “plantá” (when the Bonfires are prepared), “mascletá” (daily fireworks show), or “cremá” (the night when the sculptures burn). To a newcomer’s eyes, the celebrations in Valencia and Alicante could seem to be the same thing, but between the two celebrations there are more differences than it seems at first sight.
Semana Santa is celebrated by the whole of Spain, but in no two places is it celebrated in the same way. They all revolve around the Catholic tradition, but many Spanish regions have their own rituals and differences in comparison to others. They all include processions, piercing chants and penitents clothing, but there are other places where Semana Santa is celebrated in a curious manner. We are going to take a look at some examples.
The big “fiestas” of Valencia, las fallas, take place over these days. They will end, as everyone knows at this point, with a grand night of fire in which they burn the giant statues which are positioned along the streets of the city of Valencia.
If there are famous carnivals in Spain they are without doubt the ones which take place in Cadiz and Tenerife. They both celebrate happiness, the will to live and partying…but despite being similar, these Spanish cities also have their differences. Some are more striking and others more subtle. What are they? We will try and shed some light on them now.