Friday, March 13, 2009

What You Must Know pt 5. Fiestas

If you come to live and work in Spain get used to the working hours first, they are best described as loose although very long as coffee in the middle of the morning can take an hour of ti me out of the day, and often does. What really makes you angry or delighted depending on your viewpoint though are the fiestas. What you must know about the fiestas is here therefore.

1) Every town, village and pueblito will have a patron saint and render homage to them in their local town fiestas.

2) The word "Fiesta" literally translated means, "damn fine excuse to pretend we are still practicing Catholics and therefore get a day off work".

3) Fiestas usually involve the playing with, torturing or receiving injuries from animals of various types. They should be viewed from this traditional viewpoint

4) Your arteries get a hiding at fiesta time as the street vendors selling deep fried dough in the form of buñuelos, churros, porras (Big churros), and other sugar coated, sugar infused or sugar bombed delicacies overwhelm you.

5) Spanish fiestas are loud and they usually are late. They go on into the night and sometimes start first thing in the morning too.

6) They sneak up on you. After ten years in my town the fiestas always happen when I am least expecting it. I only find out usually because there is a huge firework display going on at midnight for some reason on the first night for however long that i have managed to get to bed early.

7) Fireworks!!!! mmmm fireworks. I live in Valencia colloquially known as the land of the 3 fingered handshake due to their obsession with throwing fireworks as kids. All Valencians talk loud too because they have all been deafened by too many Mascletas and just to help you out I have posted one here. Stick with it until 5.46 mins for the conclusion it just gets louder and louder

Fallas de Valencia 2009 - Mascleta by Pirotecnia Penyarroja from Freakpyromaniacs on Vimeo.

8) The religious devotion on show is totally genuine of course. These people spend all year praying to the virgin and wrapping themselves in sackcloth and ashes.

9) The pueblos will have the Matanza at certain times of the year. This is not a fiesta for the squeamish nor vegertarians. This is where a pig, usually, is sacrificed and every single part of its body is used to make weird and wonderful (sic) concoctions and variations on sausages. Pay special attention to the pancakes with pig's blood.

10) Fiestas are great and what hold the community together in Spain. The whole year is devoted to preparing the fiestas in many parts and once they are gone, well there is always next year's to plan.

What are your experiences of Spanish fiestas


  1. All VERY true and woe betide any non-Spaniard who asks why the (bankrupt) local council spends more on fireworks than the local library, childcare/healthcare/road maintenance/swimming pool ....................combined. How do you know you are "español de corazón"? Simple, you think absolutely reasonable that fireworks displays should be started during the daytime and at 2am (-ish!)

    ........should if at all possible be scheduled for a Tuesday or Thursday. In that way you have an excuse to take the Monday or Friday off work to and make a "puente" (bridge) = (yet anither) long weekend. In the sad case that it falls on a Wednesday you must there celebrate the "vespera" (eve) of the fiesta too and make another "puente" this time taking the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off. As you are no good for anything on the Thursday and it's hardly worth opening the factory/office just for the Friday you now have the whole week off.

    It is, OF COURSE, necessary to ensure that the nearest town and city has their fiesta on a different week. The preference would be the week before or after. In that way the whole area can be closed for two weeks as Paterna needs Valencia and vice versa, Madrid needs Getafe and vice versa, Barcelona needs El Prat and vice versa. With clever planning you can close the whole region for 51 weeks of the year by having fiestas in contigious towns/villages and, as it would be just stupid to open up for the one week that's left, so let's call the whole year a fiesta! Easy really.

    Kind Regards


  2. Thanks for the insight Steve. I love the ideas of midweek Fiestas so we get the whole week off.

  3. I think we have reached the time that cruelty to animals in the name of any religion is for the sick, twisted, naive, ignorant and stupid people.

  4. Sense of humour failure there Paz. It was said with my tongue firmly in my cheek. I actually agree with most of what you say here.


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