USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘spain’
Folk Beliefs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

12 Grapes for the New Year

Main Text:

DC: “On New Years at 12:00 am you are supposed to consecutively eat one grape each second for a total of 12 grapes in 12 seconds for good luck in the new year.”


Although I collected this from a Mexican woman who is my boyfriend’s sister-in-law, I also witnessed and performed this tradition on New Years of this year while at a New Years celebration at my boyfriend’s family’s house. To give context, we all counted down along with the timer on the T.V. and my boyfriend’s mom was rushing around trying to give us all 12 grapes off the vine. It ended up being a mess with everyone dropping grapes and stuffing our faces while trying not to joke, but it ended with us all laughing and enjoying the company of each other. I asked DC why she thinks this tradition and folk belief has been passed aline within her family and others and she speculated that grapes is some cultures must be seen as lucky.


Recent articles say that the practice of eating grapes on New Years goes back to as old as the 1880s. In the 1880s, the bourgeoisie of Madrid were said to have celebrated the ending of the year by copying the French tradition of eating grapes and drinking champagne. This tradition then grew over time and led people tp believe that they needed to eat 12 grapes to have luck for all of the 12 months to follow in the New Year. Over time, this practice was used in order to mock the wealthy bourgeoisie and the ‘common’ people of Madrid began eating grapes to make fun of the practice that was performed by the wealthy middle class. Subsequently, this custom caught on and more and more people began to do it because they thought it would bring them good financial like if the Bourgeoisie of Madrid were doing it.

With the known history of grape eating as way to celebrate the end of a year being revealed, the belief in financial gain was probably a big pushing factor to many and encouraged them to share this belief and continue the custom. I feel too that media coverage also has encouraged the adaptation of said belief by larger parts of Europe, people in the United States and Even people in Mexico City. On New Years, the camera for the main national tv centers on the clock tower of the 18th-century Real Casa de Correos in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. Announcers then tell the instructions to all of the people in the audience and they then begin eating the 12 grapes. Centuries ago, TV was not around and these traditions had to be purely face to face, but that feudal folkloric model. With the introduction of tv and the Internet, people are now able to share cultures and practices all over the world in a way like never before even with people they have never met and will never meet in person. This new folklore model creates a world in which folklore can be spread all throughout the world to those with access to TV and internet in such ease that more and more people begin adopting and creating variations of other people’s traditions, like what I believe has happened here with the eating of 12 gapes on the New Year.


Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine

Banana Peels and Sore Throats

The informant, my grandfather, is a 67-year-old man who was born and raised in the Sacramento Valley. His mother was also born in the United States, and is of Spanish, German, and French descent. While riding in the car on the way to breakfast, I asked if he remembered any of the home remedies his mother would use when he was sick.

“When I or any of my siblings had a sore throat, my mom would take a banana, peel it, and place the moist side of the banana peel against our feet. Then we had to put socks on. Apparently, whatever was left in the banana peel would heal your sore throat. Maybe it had to do with the potassium or something. I’m not sure if it ever really worked, but we still did it.”

I was a bit taken aback by this form of folk medicine, mostly because I could not imagine the sensation of having a banana peel forced inside of my sock. The informant did not initially tell me where his mother learned of this remedy. After I followed up to determine whether it was an idiosyncrasy, the informant said that his mother learned of the healing properties of banana peels from her mother, who was born in Spain, and that the tradition had been prominent within their community as doctors were scarcely available and most remedies were communicated orally. However, the informant decided not to continue the tradition and pass it down to his children because he felt there were better remedies available for a sore throat. Perhaps the idea of a banana peel having medicinal properties comes from the fact that fruits, and bananas in particular, are rich in vitamins and minerals. Banana peels are cool to the touch, and so may be capable of alleviating skin irritations or abrasions. It is unclear how these properties applied to the bottom of one’s foot would help to remedy a sore throat, but maybe the unfamiliar sensation served as a distraction from the pain that the child felt in their throat by focusing attention to a different area of the body.

Folk speech


Collector: Oh! Do the story about why that guy got mad at you, or got mad at someone…

Informant: So, I don’t know if you’ve heard this story Maddie, um when I was in Spain, uh, so the word, like the colloquial term for blowjob is a person’s name in every city in Spain, and so, um, like in my friend’s town Toledo, Maria, and then in Granada it’s Victoria, um, so that’s just the context. So, I’m out with my friends—I was friends with this Spanish guy named Mario—and in Spain you go on dates, it’s like middle school style dating, so group dates. And so, um, Mario would ask me out and said invite some of your friends, so me and my two American friends were meeting up with his two friends, but then last minute his really good friend from where he’s from, Cordova, came to visit down in Granada, and so we were like—he was like “one more person” and I was like “oh my other friends are busy,” and he was like, “it’s fine, like [whatever his name is] will just come hang out”—I think his name was David. And so, we’re all at this bar hanging out, and then, um, we were doing like a pub crawl, and so we were supposed to head down to the next place, and so, um, his other friend, Luis, was like “oh guys we’re going to this next bar in 5 minutes, like finish your drinks,” and so like all the Spanish people are lightly sipping, and the Americans start to, like, you know, really try and down their drinks, and my friends, Claire and Diana, had like straws in their drinks and so they were trying to, kind of like, furiously sip.

Person: You have another friend named Diana?

Informant: Mhm

Person: Rude. Rude!

Informant: She looks nothing like you, so it’s okay.

Person: Sorry, continue.

Informant: She’s Italian and from upstate New York. Um, and so, we—but I had a beer, and so I needed to like, chug it, so I just, you know, like, I’m an adult and a frat star, I chug my beer. And I look, everyone’s kind of staring at me, because in Europe you don’t have to, like, chug your drinks because you’re an adult, um and you can drink it slow and be a normal person. Um, and so I’m like, whatever, I did it, it’s done, don’t make fun of me. And, um, I look up, and David is like smirking, and he says, “Aye que buenas Mayas,” and in Granada, at least in Spain, mallas, I’ve always been taught that means leggings, so it’s M-A-L-L-A-S, leggings, like, you know, like, the pants, so, um, I was like “what?” because I was wearing jeans, so I was like, maybe he thinks these are like, jeggings, okay whatever. And, like, I look over at Mario, and Mario looks furious. And I’m like, okay. And he said something really fast to David in Cordovan slang, and—Cordovian—and like, I don’t know what it means, and I, but I can tell he’s really pissed, but I’m like, I don’t know why you’re angry, okay. And so we start walking to the next bar, and I’m like holding hands with Mario, and I’m like, “Why were you so upset?” And he was like, “Oh, I don’t want to talk about it.” And I’m like, “No, I don’t understand, I didn’t really get the joke, so like what did that mean?” Because like Mario speaks English and Spanish, and so in Spanish I’m asking this, but like, “Can you explain it in English because I don’t get it.” And he was like, in English, “No we’re not going to talk about it.” And I was, he never speaks to me in English unless I ask him to, so I was like, “No, just, just, tell me.” And he like, will not say it, and I’m like, I’m the worst, when I want to know something, I will, I will force you to tell me, and so eventually he’s like, “He was saying, you know like how here Victoria means, like, blowjob?” I was like, “yeah.” He was like, “Well, in like, our town, outside of Cordova, like, Mayas are like blowjobs.” And I was like, “Wait what?” And he was like “Cause, you know, you chugged your drink, so you have to like open your throat, just kind of pour it…” And I was like, “Oh, Bueno, Bueno, [what sounds like "tamos"] a qui…” I switched right back to Spanish, because I was like I don’t want to talk about this hmmmm. So, that’s the end of that story.


Informant is a junior at the University of Southern California. She is studying communications here. She is from Boston, Massachusetts. She spent a while in the southern part of Spain, and speaks fluent Spanish. I spoke to her while we were eating lunch at my sorority house one day. We were sitting together with some of my other informants. Much of what she told me was learned from her own experiences.


I had recalled her telling this story, and thought that it was interesting and a new part of a culture I wasn’t very familiar with. As we were sitting at lunch discussing folklore, I remembered that she had told me this before, and asked her to tell it again. I haven’t heard of any other culture that does this to so much of an extent. It seems that every place, or so it’s suggested, uses some woman’s name for blowjob. It’s also interesting to see the difference in cultures having to do with the consumption of alcohol. It seems that a stereotype perpetuated by the party culture of many large and small universities is so different than the way the majority of the world consumes alcohol.


Family Ties to Cortés

“My mom always tells me this story of how her family came over on Hernán Cortés’ actual boat. There aren’t really any documents of it actually happening, but it’s been a belief in my family for generations. My ancestor was a Spanish soldier on Cortés’ initial conquest of the Aztecs, but he had mixed feelings about how they treated the natives. After he befriended an Aztec women before Cortés reached Tenochtitlan, he decided to abandon the conquest and moved away with the woman. They eventually started a family in Mexico, and over a few generations, my branch of the family ended up in what is now Española, New Mexico. My mom’s family has been in Española for hundreds of years, and a whole bunch of my family lives there still.”


This comes from one of my friends whose mother is fully racially Mexican, but has lived in Española, New Mexico, her whole life. Her family actually was really prominent in Española and owned a lot of land in the New Mexico territory. He essentially said that he doesn’t really believe the story fully and thinks that his mom’s family has probably exaggerated it a lot, but he still finds it really cool how strong the belief is in his family, and he actually thinks it’s awesome that there is somewhat of a possibility that his family has a connection to such a significant historical event.


Folk Dance

La Tuna

“During my college years in the mid 80’s I was a member of a ‘Tuna” group in Spain. A “Tuna” is a group of university or college students who dress in traditional costumes and play traditional instruments and sing serenades. In essence the tradition of this student tuna band or ensembles seems to go back to the 13th century as reflected in some of the medieval literature. That’s how we know the 13th century part because some of the literature alludes to these roaming student ensembles who would play music largely to earn money. They would sing and in some place they were known as “sopantes” de “sopa” (soup). Like soup kitchens that we have here; people would feed them for free. So sometimes they were known as “sopantes.” So this tradition of these student ensembles was typical of Spain and Portugal and it made its way even to the Americas through Spain. So in Mexico and Peru and all of these countries that were part of the Spanish empire, when the Spanish came and founded their universities here. In 1551 Emperor Charles V granted the charter which established the university of San Marcos in Lima, Peru to other old universities like Mexico City and Santo Domingo. So the tradition spread into the countries of the Americas that way. Today this tradition has even spread into the Netherlands as well. Over time the original purpose of these ensembles disappeared. The students weren’t doing these serenades to get money, largely but it became established as a venerable tradition on university campuses. And like by the 19th century already they were established as a cultural activity or enterprise on campuses. It was now sponsored on the campuses like a club or a school marching band. And membership was through trial; you had to pass. Not only music but pranks and stuff too. All of these things were involved in being admitted into “Le Tuna.” Now the tradition is that each school like Medicine, Architecture, Humanities, Law, you know all of these, have their own. And the colors are set for each field or discipline. I think Medicine is yellow. Basic science is usually royal blue. But there’s green and red. So no matter if it’s from different universities, the schools have the same colors. The costumes are kind of old fashioned and reminiscent of Renaissance, 16th century. So the costumes include a cloak, a ‘dublet,’ which is a tight fitting jacket almost like a bolero jacket that goes on top of a white shirt that has big cuffs and collar, they are like puffy. And then the pants are called petticoat britches, Spanish britches that are fitted right under the knee. And then there’s tights, stockings and also pointy black shoes and the most important thing is the so called “beca.” The “beca” is a V-shaped band that goes over the shoulders and on top of the jacket. The color of it is characteristic of the field. And then on top of everything you wear a big, long cloak, typical of the 16th century. Each ‘tuno,’ pins ribbons of different colors and seals or coat of arms patches that are sewn on of all of the cities and countries that the group has played in. The ribbons are usually given by girls to the “tuno.” But the seals or the coat of arms from places are collected through the traveling. So the amount of ribbons and patches on the cloak tells you already about the ensemble member. Those that are seasoned will have their cloaks nearly covered with patches. And those who are more popular with girls with have more ribbons *chuckles*.  Traditionally, the girl who gives the ribbon would embroider messages onto them for example, “para el tuno mas simpatico” (for the most charming tuno)  or “para el tuno mas guapo” (for the most handsome tuno).  Mothers, aunts, grandmothers and sweethearts would give the ribbons.

The instruments consist of typical Spanish guitars, but also combine other traditional string instruments like “el laud” y “la banduria” and also, very typically tambourines. The tambourines are the quintessential ‘Tuna’ instrument. Also some “Tuna’s” use accordions. Ive’ seen on television that Mexican “Tuna’s” have incorporated the typical Mexican, “guitarron.”

There is not agreement as to the origin of the name. Some trace it to the King of Tunis in north Africa. The tradition says that there might have been a “King Tunez” who was very fond of music and was sort of a vagabond and would like to walk around the streets playing and singing. So apparently sometime in the middle ages or the Renessaince the term “you’re a king of Tunis” would be given to the leader of an itinerant band.  But most people think it comes from the Spanish word “tunante” which is almost like a villain, a rogue but you can also use it with children like in English when we say “you little scamp.” “Tunante” has the connotation of mischievous yet playful, not necessarily malicious because we use it often with children.  From the word “tunante” could have evolved the word “tuno.” So the group of “tunos” became “La Tuna,” the band of “tunos.” But nobody really knows for sure.

They play lots of traditional “folk” music. Many of the songs are “tuna” folk songs but also many others are just other traditional songs that the play in their serenades. In modern times, “tunos” incorporate some more modern, popular music. One of the most typical songs in any ‘tunas’ repertoire is “La Compostelana.” It’s a song named after the “Tuna Compostelana.” Compostelana comes from Santiago de Compostela.  Which is the city of Saint James in northern Spain that has one of the best known and well established universities in Spain, founded in 1495. So this song that every ‘tuna’ plays has a line that says “Que cada cinta que adorna mi capa guarda un trocito de corazon.” Which means: every ribbon that decorates my cloak, holds a piece of heart. So that’s where the idea of the ribbon comes from.

It’s interesting that today in modern, recent times the ‘tunas’ have nearly regained or gone back to the idea of playing to earn money. Because now it’s not uncommon that they are hired by people for institutions or special events, such as weddings or other celebrations and even special events. For example when there are foreign dignitaries that come to Spain or for conventions to serenade visitors. While I was “tuno” we got hired to do two weddings. I was kind of like the ‘buffoon’ of the group. I would be the one cracking all the jokes and had the tambourine. I was directly engaging the audiences. The lead of the group is the one who introduces the band, cracks jokes, talks with the audience, with the girls, does acrobatic jumps and throws the tambourine around. ”

Can you tell me about some of the initiation processes or pranks you mentioned?:

“The selection process when someone wants to be a part of the ‘tuna’ starts with musical skills. Do you know how to play an instrument? Can you sing reasonably? There’s also usually tests to see if the person is shy and able to be out late at night and interacting with audiences. They’re not usually cruel though. Like standing out on the street in your underwear. Or asking a guy to take a ‘clavel,’ a carnation and profess your love to a random girl. Or to play out in the street and ask people to put money in your hat. These tests were kind of embarrassing but not meant to be overly cruel, more to test for an outgoing personality of a member. Oh and I forgot to tell you, some of the bigger groups take summer tours. Some of them have lots of prestige and are like institutions and go on tours abroad or just in Spain. ”

So the group didn’t only sing songs, there was dancing and performance involved?

“Yes, at a certain point the “tunos” get girls from the audience to dance. They play paso dobles and take women out to dance with them. Sometimes it’s in auditoriums but others it’s out in the street or they might go to an airport or something.”


I had seen this picture of my dad before and knew it was from his days of being a “tuno.” But I didn’t have anymore details than that. It was really fun for me to hear about my dad’s memories from college, right about when he was my age. It appears that this tradition in Spanish universities is similar to the American college tradition of fraternities. In both they form a close group and have some forms of initiations, but the ‘Tuna” has a musical and performance aspect that the fraternities lack. As his daughter I only get to see tidbits of his humor, but knowing that he played the lead of the group and/or buffoon makes absolute sense. It was also entertaining for me to watch him giggle when he started explaining the interactions “La Tuna” would have with women. It was my impression that he was popular with the ladies, although he didn’t explicitly admit that.
Here is another explanation of the “Tuna” tradition:

Rituals, festivals, holidays

Los Cabezudos y Gigantes

“All the people in my village in Avila meet at the ‘Plaza de Ayuntamiento’ (City Hall). After we set off fireworks and when they finish the ‘Cabezudos’ start running and chasing after the people with branches and they hit the people. These ‘Cabezudos’ are first and then in the back are the ‘Gigantes’ (Giants) with the town band.  If you want to get chased you go to the front of the procession and if you want to be safe you go to the back with the giants and the band. This happens in the morning and then at night they do another thing. It’s called ‘Toro de Fuego’ (Fire Bull). One man puts a still structure with a bull form and in the horns they put ‘corre calles’ or ‘bengalas’ (light sticks, type of fireworks). When they fall off the horn the fireworks dance around the street on their own, like a type of rocket. This is a festival in my town and is less known than Sen Fermines.”


When does this festival take place?:

“The festival starts the 15th of July to about the 30th of July. The festival happens once a year and celebrates the saint of our town, San Pedro. ”

What are some other things that you guys do during the town festival?:

“There’s no school during this time because it’s summer. During any other summer night it would be normal to see lots of young people out on the street. But during the festival all ages and types of people are out on the street celebrating. A group sets up a stage and there are concerts and performances every night.”

Do you know how or who build the Cabezudos or Gigantes?:

“‘Cabezudos’ are big, plastic heads. I think they buy some and other, smaller ones they make. The same people who wear them during the procession either make or buy their own heads.”


The direct translation for “cabezudo” is an adjective meaning headstrong. But within the context of this festival the term is used as a noun for the large-headed characters that are a part of the parade. The direct translation for “gigantes” is giant. In the town festival these accompany the ‘cabezudos’ and are similar caricatures but are giant in height.

Upon further research I learned that the “cabezudos y gigantes” tradition is not isolated to the informants hometown of Avila. These characters are present in the parades of the patron saint festivals of many towns throughout Spain and now even in Latin America. The most famous example of them is from the patron saint festivals of San Fermin, known as ‘San Fermines’, as the participant had mentioned. Most town throughout Spain include them as a part of their parades, but not all do.

Folk speech

Ojos que no ven, corazon que no siente

“The saying goes: Ojos que no ven, corazon que no siente. If the eyes don’t see, the heart doesn’t feel, literally. In English a close equivalent would be “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” My grandmother Victoria would use this saying very often. She was actually my main source for Spanish sayings and proverbs, lo que llamamos ‘refranes’ (what we call ‘sayings’), ‘El refranero popular’ (popular proverbs). Much of it is not recorded and has been passed down from generation to generation. She, in her daily speech would sprinkle constantly ‘refranes’. And my other grandmother and other ladies would use them constantly. To a level that I don’t hear anymore in the younger generations, even my parents, as those ladies who were all born at the turn of the 20th century. And they would constantly, constantly use these popular sayings. Because of the circumstances they were my babysitters after school, I was exposed to their speech everyday. We would gather at my maternal grandmothers house and my paternal grandmother would join us everyday. And there we would have an after school snack, ‘la merienda’ and a number of other neighbors routinely would join and come also. “Las mismas viejas venian todo los dias. Jaja.” (The same old ladies would come every day. Haha.) My grandmother Encarna and grandmother Victoria. So I learned a lot of these ‘refranes’ directly from my grandmothers. Now talking to you I can clearly see that later generations would not use as much these refranes or popular sayings in their everyday speech. To the point that every situation, every conversation, whether happy or festive or sad or even, because then there was a point there were some children shows on television shows. My grandmother had a television; and they would react to these shows and situations or the news with ‘refranes.” Tengo una lista de refranes muy larga. (I have a very long [mental] list of sayings.)  But this one that I’m telling you about was very widely used by my paternal grandmother. She would use it many different ways. For family members and relatives or for more removed situations. She would often use it with the meaning of ‘don’t make someone suffer unnecessarily.’ And her second most favorite one was “Donde las dan, las toman.” *laughs* The donde is very undefinied but in English it could be “what goes around comes around.” Siempre estaba diciendo esto. (She was always saying this.) I remember she would use this a lot from the small children. Like if one of the kids would hit another kid, and then the kid tripped she would say “Donde las dan, las toman.”

It’s kind of sad really, up until that generation, those people were not all necessarily educated but they had all of these refranes in their “acervo cultural” (cultural heritage, cultural tradition). It was a big part of their cultural baggage. And today we don’t use them; we’ve lost them. Maybe because now we’ve become more rational or whatever and we don’t have to rely so much on what the collective thinking had to say on things. They feel probably that they don’t need to fall back on what the collective thinking has to say because all these sayings are collective thinking on anything and everything. On the weather. There was a time when people relied on those things more to interpret daily life, both in the natural world and in human relations and on other levels. I remember them talking a lot about the weather and using sayings. They were constantly using sayings to interpret everything going on around them. That’s my point. That has been lost. People don’t do that anymore.”

The item that has been collected here is the saying, “Ojos que no ven, corazon que no siente.” But what I found most compelling about this conversation was my fathers reasoning for why many of these sayings or “Refranero Popular” have been lost. Western society focuses more and more on science, the official and the logical. Some sayings still exist, but as he explained this is not what people nowadays rely on to interpret the world around them. These sayings were not just whimsical sentences, they were modes of interacting with their surroundings and explaining phenomenon. Now, we tend to base our thinking and statements on what the latest study has discovered or the newest schools of thought.

It was interesting for me to watch my dad tell me this story. He was kind of sad. And not only because he was nostalgic, thinking about his grandmother and their times together, but also because he was realizing that a part of the culture he grew up with is disappearing.

Folk speech

Más que carretas

“I heard this saying from our uncle who got it from our great-grandmother, Vioto. It says:  ‘Tiran más tetas que carretas.’ She would use it to mean that women had more power, particularly over men than almost any other force. Like ok, go ahead and do what you want but you know I’m going to win in the end.”

Literally, the translations is: boobs pull more than carts. After doing some research I learned that the ‘cart’ is referring to a cart that is pulling oxen. Also, there are various versions of this saying with slightly different wording, but the the idea is the same. Most people have interpreted it to mean that a women’s body is her greatest tool and that is the driving force. However, I believe that the way in which my great-grandmother used it was not explicitly about the breasts or body of a female, but about the power of a woman’s influence overall. The context in which she used it was to show female dominance, something that was not very common in the mid-1900’s.

Here is a site that provides numerous variations of this saying:


Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Jokes about the Catalan

“Este es un chiste sobre los catalanes que dice la gente de Madrid:

Este es un Catalan que va conduciendo su coche y tiene un acidente. Entonces le gente se para para ayudarle y llaman a un ambulancia. Entonces viene la ambulancia y el esta mal errido como aturdido. Entonces sale el camillero y le dice a sus companeros de la ambulancia, “rapido trae me una mascara” y el tio medio sangrao, aturdido dice “la mas cara no, por favor. la mas varata.”

Hay el estereotipo que los catalanes son unos agarados con el dinero. ”

This is a joke about the Catalan that people from Madrid say:

“There is a Catalonian man that is driving along in his car and has an accident. So then the people stop to help him and call an ambulance. Then the ambulance comes and he is badly hurt and dazed. Then the paramedic steps out and says to his co-workers, “Quick bring me a mask.” And the guy, half-bleeding and dazed says, “Not the most expensive one, the cheapest one.”

The joke is found in the play on words between ‘mascara’ (mask) and ‘mas cara’ (the most expensive). They both sound the same in Spanish but have, obviously very different meanings. The injured man thinks the paramedic is saying to bring out the most expensive, when really the paramedic is saying to bring out a respiratory mask. In response the injured man requests the cheapest one despite being severely injured. The joke plays off the stereotype that the Catalonian people are very cheap. This joke is similar to jokes in the United States about Jewish people being frugal with money. Also, there is lots of cultural tension between the Catalan people and the rest of Spain due to a political movement on the part of the Catalonians trying to declare independence from the rest of Spain. This joke is a means of putting down the Catalonians therefore making it easier to separate themselves from them.

Rituals, festivals, holidays


“Everything starts around 9:30am. Where all the people especially the young ages, from 16 to late 20’s or even early 30’s all meet to have breakfast with their friends, in groups. So they have a good, filling meal. So after that they usually go to their “cuartos” (rooms) which are little locations that established groups of friends, called “quadrillas” (circle of friends, clique) rent together to use as a gathering place during the “fiestas” (festival, party). So they pretty much go there after having that good amount of food and start drinking. That’s if you’re older. The younger teenagers mix club soda and food coloring with some other things and spray each other to get messy. They throw food and other things at each other to get messy. They even throw eggs. People start heading out to the city hall around 11:30 because the awaited “chupinzao” starts at 12pm. So the whole village around the city hall is waiting for the mayor to set the main rocket off , called the “chupinazo.” The setting off of the rocket marks the official start of the towns “fiestas.” After the rocket has been launched people dance in the street and proceed up the main street to the plaza like a parade. As the people walk up the street, townspeople throw buckets of water from their balconies onto the people dancing below. This is how the “fiestas” start in my hometown of Calahorra, La Rioja. I live in Madrid now but always go back to Calahorra for fiestas which is where my family is from. “Fiestas” in Calahorra start on August 25 and end the 30th. The fiestas celebrate the towns saint of San Emeterius and Celedonius. ”


Every town in Spain has its own patron saint(s) and the festivals of the town are based on those saints. One of the most well known examples of this is the festival of Sanfermines from the city of San Fermin. Their patron saint is Saint Fermin. Most of the “fiestas” include similar traditions like Cabezudos y Gigantes, ‘chupinazo’, and a running of the bulls. Sanfermines has made these traditions known internationally but they are performed in almost every towns’ patron saints festival celebrations, locally called ‘fiestas.’ The ‘chupinazo’ is the kick-off to start ‘fiestas.’ The informant provided his experience of the ‘chupinazo’ in Calahorra, Spain.

This website provides further information and a few pictures of the “Chupinzao”: