One of the things that I love about living here in Spain is the century old traditions, that continue on even in this modern age.
Here in our village, last night was the start of the Fiesta San Blas.
Saint Blaisé (San Blas)
San Blas was the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia during the fourth century. Very little is known about his life, but according to various accounts, he was a physician before becoming a bishop. His fame spread throughout the entire Church in the Middle Ages because he was reputed to have miraculously cured a little boy who nearly died because of a fishbone in his throat. From the eighth century, he has been invoked on behalf of the sick, especially those afflicted with illnesses of the throat. He was martyred by being beaten, attacked with iron combs, and beheaded. He is the patron saint of wool combers.
The fiesta starts on the evening of the 2nd February. It begins with a large bonfire in the square outside the Ermita San Blas, in years gone by, the villagers would bring broken furniture, brambles and general fire making wood to the square to use as firewood, this year it was mainly olive and oak. Children are given long sticks that have been in the fire, (once cooled down) and the cold charcoal is smudged onto the children's faces. Children run around playing and the heat from the fire warms the adults standing around chatting. It’s a HUGE fire, smack bang in the plaza next to the wooden roofed church, wooden doors and several houses. Health and safety are not big issues during fiesta times.
Ribbons are traditionally worn around the neck, as San Blas is said to cure the ills of the throat.
There are several colours, the black is worn by Widows, red is traditional colour worn by other adults and the other two colours are worn by children. The ribbon is given to be worn around the neck for the nine days following the blessing.
In the days leading up to the Fiesta San Blas, local ladies spend time preparing cakes and sweets These are Escaldones, fried nuégados. These are similar to a flat fried doughnut, sugar coated and OKish the eve of San Blas, these cakes are displayed for all to see.
The following day they become part of the main event.
On the actual day of San Blas as is traditional in most fiestas, there is a procession through the village. We took our position in the plaza outside the Ermita San Blas.
|Local TV interviewing locals|
All evidence of the previous night’s bonfire had disappeared. The sound of music and singing wafted down into the square and the ladies and children of the village appeared in their traditional costumes of the area. These skirts and petticoats are hand embroidered and many have been handed down from one generation to another. The matching shoes are gorgeous
The ladies, position a circular headpiece on their heads, on which they balance a wooden board that is covered with handmade and embroidered lace cloth’s, on top of this they carry desserts made by the village women.
The women carry these through the village with great skill preventing them from falling to the ground as they dance and sing to the band. The children come first and are supported by their parents, but as the procession continues the older girls and ladies follow, and dance and sing to the music, how the cakes stay on I will never know, there must have been the odd mishap over the years.
A brief stop in the Main Plaza, where folks dance and sing and then the procession continues in all its colourful glory.
I could have watched this couple dance all day................................
I am hoping that the young will grow up and continue these long traditions, many of which we
have lost over the years in the UK...............................