Strange Christmas Celebrations in Spain 

The province of Caceres probably has more strange Christmas festivals than most other parts of Spain. 

In Torrejoncillo, Caceres, the festivities start early in December. 
On December 8 (the day of the Immaculate Conception) the town's youth wrap themselves in emerald-studded sheets. Holding the standard of the Immaculate Virgin on high, they gallop through the streets firing shotguns into the air to the cheers of the local people. 

In the sleepy town of Galisteo a slapstick Nativity play is performed by the Brotherhood of Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. The actors perform their own version of what happened in Bethlehem all those years ago. 
The part of Jesus is played by a large, plastic doll. The other occupants of the manger are real enough - the shepherds are dressed in regional costume and carry shotguns. After numerous encores, the actors tour Galisteo singing their own versions of Christmas carols. 

For the youngsters of the tiny hamlet of Albala, December 26th has a special meaning. They carry out an old fertility right dressed in regional costume. Albala's youngsters must escort two local damsels (who carry a brightly decorated basket brimming with fruit on their heads) through the streets of the town. The ceremony is meant to ensure bountiful harvests, and to enhance child-bearing.

In Fuentecarreteros, Cordoba, they celebrate "El Baile de los Locos" -the Dance of the Madmen. Master of ceremonies is EI Loco Mayor, the chief madman. He directs a mass of apparently deranged dancers who take it upon themselves to dance through people's houses and to try and test the sense of humour of the villagers.
The Fiesta de Verdiales in Malaga outdoes them all. It begins around midday on December 28th at an insignificant wayside inn on the old mountain road between Malaga and Antequera. Thousands of people converge on "La Venta del Tunel" to watch country musicians in 20 groups locked in a contest to see who can play the longest and loudest. 


 

Strange Christmas Celebrations in Spanish-speaking countries 

Night of the Radishes

This unusual event takes place in Oaxaca, Mexico on December 23rd each year. 

It dates back to the mid-ninteenth century and commemorates the introduction of the radish by the Spanish colonists. Radishes in this region grow to the size of yams but are not the rounded shape we usually see. They are twisted and and distorted by growing in the rocky soil. These unusual shapes are exploited by local artisans who carve them into elaborate scenes from the Bible, from history, and from the Aztec legends. Cash prizes are awarded for the most original piece of work and the evening culminates with a spectacular fireworks display. 

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Email : Pat Spiller-Spanish Festivals or St. Paul's School, Barcelona