Three Fiery Spanish Fiestas
Winter is going to be LIT, literally.
There’s no denying that we’re auteurs of the fiesta life, directionless vagabonds who bounce from this street party to that, forcing ourselves onto the locals and worming our way into their cultural celebrations. This is old news, but what may find itself filed under “new news”, or “new and interesting news” is the revelation that Spanish fiesta season isn’t restricted to the summer months. No, believe it or not, the good people of the Iberian Peninsular aren’t party bears, retreating to their caves to sleep away the winter months, nay, they find any and every old excuse to have a good ol’ shins up in the fouler months as well.
The thing is that over the colder months it makes more sense to trip the light fantastic in a way that warms the cockles, and so we find many of the traditional Spanish fiestas between November and March feature more than their fair share of flammage. And yes, like you’d expect from a Spanish fiesta, acceptable standards of health and safety aren’t applied to these shindigs, and that’s what makes them just so gosh darn appealing.
In the region of Extremadura, so named because it’s extreme and hard (duro, no shit), every December 7th they celebrate Los Escobazos, which is an ancient tradition in the region where the locals spend a night beating each other with brooms THAT ARE ON FIRE. And to make matters weirder, it’s all in the name of religion, and hasn’t everything great that’s ever been done been done in the name of religion?
Spain’s third city, the Mediterranean port of Valencia, turns out every March for Las Fallas, a week of firecrackers and effigy burning on an unprecedented scale. Basically, the citizens of Valencia spend the best part of the year building elaborate statues out of the most flammable material they can muster, because at midnight, on the 19th of March, they burn them down to the ground. And make no mistake, these are big, beautiful statues, not the kind you’d want to burn, and when they go up you’re going to want to shield your face, or at least spit on your eyebrows, because it is as hot as a chili in there. This fiesta is too much for many Spaniards, between the relentless micro-explosions of the fireworks and the big burning, but we think that with the excitement and the spectacle Las Fallas is just fantastic.
San Juan ain’t quite winter, but it’s the start of summer, so that’s gotta count for somethin’. Plus San Juan is nationwide, from Galicia to the Balearics, Basque Country and down to Andalucia. This is midsummer’s night, and the Spaniards ring out the longest day of the year by burning big old bonfires, and sometimes jumping through them, because what’s a Spanish fiesta without a dash of recklessness? For us the best bonfires are in Menorca, because 50 Fiestas went there, and 50 Fiestas, in addition to being hot guys, sure know their way around a Spanish fiesta.
And there you have it, undeniable proof that it doesn’t have to be hot and spicy for you to have a caliente time in a Spanish fiesta. Seriously, there’s something weird, wild and different going on each and every week over here, so if you like the loose life, best be jumping on a plane, Paco.
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