The popular festivals are a sign of identity in all cultures. Traditions that have been maintained in some cases since time immemorial and which have survived the passage of time. Although all festivals, without exception, have their charm, there are some that stand out from the rest because of their uniqueness.
In this post we present 6 festivals in La Rioja that will surprise you and where you will want to go at least once in your life.
1. The World's Most Famous Wine Battle in Haro
Haro is one of the most important towns in the region. international level when it comes to wine. The city where the Rioja designation of origin began to develop and where the largest concentration of century-old wineries in the world can be found: The Station Quarter.
It is not surprising that such a peculiar battle, such as this one, is The Battle of the Wine, takes place in Haro, where each 29 June at 8.45 a.m. this amusing battle begins in the Riscos de Bilibio.
1.1. Festivals of San Juan, San Felices and San Pedro in Haro - La Rioja
The Battle of the Wine is the the final culmination of a week of festivities in Haro which begins on the night of 23 June with the bonfire of San Juan.
Then, on 25 June, the San Felices de Bilibio, patron saint of the city, whose hermitage is located on the cliffs of Bilibio, the site of the famous battle.
The days of festivities are coming to a climax the night of 28-29 JuneThe day is a time when many people leave the house dressed in white and ready for what is coming at dawn.
The Riscos de Bilibio are located a few km from the city, so from dawn onwards the pilgrimage to the hermitage. Buses, cars, tractors and people on foot head for the "battlefield".
Once there, in the small hermitage, there is a mass in honour of the Saint at 8:45 a.m. and as tradition dictates after the mass and the launching of the rocket announcer the battle begins.
Throughout the morning the crews have lunch in the warmth of the fire who helps to dry his clothes until he sets off again. the way back to Haro.
Once in the city, the "Las Vueltas" take place where the pilgrims walk through the city to the sound of brass bands until they reach the bullring. where the release of the heifers takes place. This brings to an end one of the most famous fiestas in La Rioja.
2. The Anguiano Dancers on their stilts
The Anguiano dancers are the most famous in La Rioja for being equipped with stilts at least 45cm high. and wide orange skirts that swoop down a cobbled slope turning in on themselves as they play castanets.
This is a declared Riojan festival Intangible Asset of Cultural Interest.
This peculiar tradition is interpreted as some form of ritual (religious or pagan) which was intended to thank the sun for a good harvest in the field. Hence the orange colour of the saya, as if the sun were reflecting on it.
In ancient times, stilts were used in this region for walking in wet areas and in times of snowfall. However, it is not known why they were incorporated into the dances of veneration to Saint Mary Magdalene.
2.1. Performances by the dancers of Anguiano
The dancers have different types of dances: El Pasacalles, La Procesión, Danzas de "La Obra", Las Escaleras, La Cuesta and Los Troquelados.
You can see their performances on the following dates:
May: On the Sunday following Ascension Day, the people go to the Ermita de la Magdalena hermitage to bring their Saint down to spend the summer in the parish church of San Andrés.
July: Festivity of the Patron Saint Mary Magdalene. As early as the 17th century, this feast was already being celebrated from time immemorial. It has its main day on 22 July, but also its corresponding eve and the day of the "Little Magdalena".
September: On the last Saturday in September, the Feast of Thanksgiving is celebrated. Once the harvests are finished, the path made in May from the Hermitage is retraced to return the Saint to her hermitage.
3. The Picaos of St. Vincent and their Discipliners
This tradition, quite different from the previous ones and unique in the world, takes place in the village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra.
It is a Christian penance which takes place during the Holy Week processions, the Stations of the Cross, the May Cross and the September Cross.
It is a ancient ritual which is thought to have begun at the end of the 15th century or beginning of the 16th century. It has always been linked to the local Brotherhood of the Santa Vera Cruz, founded in 1551.
The clergy of Spain held him in great veneration and although in 1799 an attempt was made to abolish this ritual continued to be practised privately.
In 2005 it was awarded the category of National Tourist Interest.
3.1. The Christian penitence of the Picaos of St. Vincent
Volunteers who wish to submit to this penance, They must meet the requirements of being of legal age, male, and have a priest certify their status as a Christian and their good faith. Maintaining at all times the anonymity of these people.
The confraternity assigns to each disciplinante a cofradeto help and accompany him during the penance.
Each disciplinarian will choose the moment at which he/she wishes to make the offering, at which time he/she will kneel down, say a prayer and after standing up, his companion removes his cloak. and leave her back uncovered. With a skein of cotton held in both hands, it will go They hit each other dryly on the back, by ramming her hard over her shoulders, each time on one side of her neck rhythmically for between ten and twenty minutes, leading to up to a thousand strokes.
The practitioner will "sting" both sides of the lumbar region of the back three times, after which the disciplinarian will be struck a few times so that blood that may have accumulated in the area, can escape and thus avoid subsequent problems.
Once he has finished, the assistant will cover his back and place the cloak on him, and then he will go to the confraternity headquarters where a specialist practitioner will will heal wounds with rosemary water and a cream whose secret composition is passed down from generation to generation.
We recommend La Casona del Boticario as accommodation in San Vicente de la Sonsierra.
4. The Medieval Days of the Town of Briones
Have you ever fantasised about the idea of time travel back to the Middle Ages? The medieval days of Briones make it a reality.
Every year in June, the village of Briones travels back in time several centuries, for a weekend, in a participative party where the neighbours collaborate in creating a scene worthy of a film.
Briones belongs to the Association of Spain's Most Beautiful Villages which makes it the ideal place to hold these events.
4.1. What life was like in the Middle Ages in La Rioja
During a weekend you can enjoy shows, activities, tastings and exhibitions throughout the village.
A multitude of mansions open their portals making pottery, blacksmithing, convent, tailoring and an endless number of craftsmen of the period that you will often be able to see working in situ.
Don't miss the XXVI Jornadas Medievales this 2024 that will be the 15 and 16 June.
5. The Procession of the Hundred Maidens in Sorzano
Sorzano is a village in barely 200 inhabitants today that still manages to keep alive the tradition of the The Procession of the Hundred Maidens.
This unique pilgrimage, the origin of which is unknown, is said by some to have begun in the Celtiberian period as a fertility rite, while others attribute it to a more recent period when, in the 9th century Abderraman I of Cordoba asked Mauregato, the bastard son of Alfonso I, for a tribute of 100 maidens for his help, which he refused to pay.
This second legend joins that of the Battle of Clavijo place to which they used to go in procession.
5.1. Procession of the Hundred Maidens in the present day
The pilgrimage takes place on third Sunday in May with a procession which leaves from the church of Sorzano to the hermitage of the Virgen del Roble.
The procession consists of a procession led by the Hundred Maidens carrying branches of holly and olive tree accompanied by a group of dancers.
On arriving at the esplanade of the hermitage, they place the images of the Virgin of La Hermedaña and the Virgin of El Roble and a symbolically charged ceremony is held.
Finally, once the ceremony is over, the retinue sets off on a return journey to the parish church with the image of the Virgen del Roble.
6. The Quel Bread and Cheese Festival
The Bread and Cheese Festival in Quel is celebrated every year on 6 August since 1479 It is one of the oldest festivals on the Iberian Peninsula. It has the category of Fiesta of National Tourist Interest.
The founding charter of the feast tells how in 1479, because of a outbreak of plagueThe population of the municipality dwindled. Those who remained entrusted themselves to Christ, the Virgin Mary and the saints. From that day on, only two or three more people died.
In remembrance of the miraculous event, they decided to go to the Hermitage of Santa Cruz and carry bread, cheese and wine to give in charity. To this end, a Confraternity of thirteen brothers (in memory of the twelve apostles and Christ), who are in charge of organising and paying for the events of the festival.
6.1. A tradition that has been going on since 1479
Every 6 August The procession goes up the road to the hermitage of Santo Cristo de Quel, where a mass is celebrated in honour of the Christ of the Transfiguration, during which you can listen to the reading of the founding charter of the Fiesta.
The following twelve confreres and the abbot The people in charge of organising the distribution share a lunch, until about 11:30h start to launch from the balcony of the hermitage, some 2000 bread rolls and 50 kg of cheese divided into rations.
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