Fiestas and Festivals in Andalucia
Fiestas in Andalucia
There is no better way to get to know the Andalucians than through their many and fascinating feast days. The local fiesta is the moment when every town and village strives to put on a splendid show, not only for themselves but also for those who come from afar to admire and enjoy. Over 3,000 fiestas are celebrated every year in Andalucia, including fairs, pilgrimages, carnivals, mock battles between Moors and Christians and religious processions, throughout the some 800 communities of the region.
Fiesta de Los Reyes
This is the moment when the three kings of Orient bring their Christmas presents to the children, on the evening of the 5th of January. Three men dress up as the kings, one with a black face, and ride about the town in a procession, scattering sweets to the crowds of excited children. The 6th of January is the public holiday in all Spain.
Carnival is celebrated before the 40 days of Lent and most Andalucian towns will stage some kind of parade. Carnival is considered to be the fiesta of the people and is a reaction against the abstentions and prohibitions of all types. After the Spanish Civil War there was concern that Carnival could become a focus for protest so General Franco abolished the Carnival in 1937. However, it continued in Cadiz and some other towns such as Ayamonte and Isla Cristina.
Easter - Semana Santa or "Holy Week"
The Easter week processions compete with one another in luxury and splendour. The parades leave each of the town´s churches to wind slowly around the streets, with their lifelike statues of Christ on the Cross and his mother the Virgin Mary in mourning. The processions are organised by the religious brotherhoods, representing guilds of tradesmen or other groups. They spend all year long preparing the elaborate costumes and decorations. This is a serious fiesta and fireworks are not permitted. Drinking and celebrating is still frowned upon by many.
Andalucia is famous for its pilgrimages or "romerías" - so called because pilgrims traditionally walked to Rome, and therefore became known as "romeros" - to popular shrines, around which fiestas are held. Perhaps the most spectacular romeria is the one devoted to the Virgen del Rocío, popularly called " El Rocio " for short. Nearly a million people from all over Spain and Andalucia make the long journey to gather in a small hamlet of El Rocio in the marshlands of the Guadalquivir River delta (south of Almonte), where the statue of the "Madonna of the Dew" has been worshipped since 1280. The pilgrims come on horseback and in gaily decorated covered wagons from all over the region, transforming the area into a colourful and noisy party. The climax of the festival is the weekend before Pentecost Monday when, in the early hours of Monday morning, the Virgin is brought out of the church.
Every town and village in Andalucia has its own feria or fair, and it would be possible to spend the whole summer following them about the region. This tradition originated in the middle ages, and was the principal means of interchange of local products within the kingdom. The first feria takes place at Seville in April (two weeks after Semana Santa) and the last is at San Pedro de Alcántara in mid October.