26 Jan, 2012 @ 14:07
3 mins read

Wacky Andalucía!


By James Bryce

FOR those who have a fascination with the quirky and obscure, Andalucia provides rich pickings.

The region is full of rituals and traditions, some of which date back hundreds of years, with Hogueras believed to even pre-date the celebration of Christmas.

Less traditionally, the village of Juzcar has been painted blue for scenes in the latest Smurfs film, while Moclinejo is set to hold a referendum on whether to become ‘pink’, as the world’s first exclusively gay town.

Meanwhile, world records are tumbling across the region, with the Cordoban town of Montilla creating a 250 metre slab of chocolate using 3,100 bars.

The same town also holds the record for creating a 200 metre Roscon de Reyes and an incredible 500 metre ham sandwich.

Other world records currently held in Andalucia include the world’s biggest photograph, a panoramic view of Sevilla that if printed out, would be as big as two football pitches.

Not to be outdone, Granada holds the world record for the largest structure made from recycled materials.

Here are another 10 chestnuts…

In Mijas, a tradition dating back to the 15th Century sends the town’s male population running for cover as single women throw pebbles at the genitals of the statue of San Antonio Abad in the belief that he will help them find a boyfriend.
Residents of El Gastor celebrate their annual August feria with the arrival of El Toro del Fuego (the fiery bull).This involves a man chasing people down the village’s narrow streets wearing a ‘hat’ shaped like a bull that sends fireworks spinning off in all directions.
Algeciras comes alive with the clattering and rattling of tin cans every January 5 as brave youngsters attempt to scare a giant. Legend has it that the giant once lived on a hillside above the port town and spread grey cloud over the settlement on January 5 so that the Three Kings would not be able to deliver their gifts. El Arrastre (The Dragging), takes place to ensure he can’t do it again and that the children receive their presents.
In Granada and Jaen, residents take part in a seemingly hazardous ritual, Hogueras, in which they jump over fires in an effort to gain protection against illness. The December 21 event is a celebration - believed to pre-date Christmas - held to mark the start of the winter solstice.
And just when you thought it was safe to go back on the street in El Gastor, the following morning involves a Pamplona-style bull run, with one individual even jumping over the beasts as they charge past.
In the Alpujarras town of Lanjaron, locals have found a novel way to escape the searing summer heat, by taking to the streets every June 24 for a giant water fight.
Those who like a flutter should head to Sanlucar de Barrameda in August where horse racing takes place along a 1,800 metre stretch of beach, a tradition dating back to 1845. The professionally run event attracts huge crowds, with all the trappings of a regular race day.


In Estepona, fishermen parade around the town towards the sea...and then enter it carrying an image of the Virgin del Carmen. Boats decorated with flowers and lanterns are blessed, while prayers are said for those lost at sea.
Residents of Baza and Gaudix in Granada reenact an old battle between the two towns every September 6 and 9, known as Cascamorras. The ritual dictates that an inhabitant of Gaudix is sent to Baza to steal the image of the Virgen de la Piedad. The individual is subsequently covered with tar and paint before receiving the same treatment on his return for having failed in his task.
El Douglas Festival sees tartan-clad Scots descend on the town of Teba in early September to mark the death of James Douglas. The military commander was a loyal companion of Robert the Bruce and following the famous Scot’s death, Douglas was charged with transporting his heart to the Holy Land. En route, Douglas was slain during a bloody battle against the Moorish army in Teba in 1330 AD.



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