La Tomatina Festival – an International Tomato Battle.
Every year on the last Wednesday of August, one of the Spanish town in Valencia turns into a bloody red battlefield. Notwithstanding, this battle is very cheerful because the weapons are tomatoes! Of course, we are talking here about La Tomatina festival (La Tomatina de Buñol), which is held during the week of the festivities of Buñol.
The history of this international festival is quite accidental. It all started in 1945 when the locals were participating in the Giants and Big-Heads figures parade (el desfile de gigantes y cabezudos) and between youths a struggle came about. As fate would have it, there was a market stall with tomatoes and without thinking the tomatoes were used to pelt each other. This is how the first battle of tomatoes took place on the Plaza del Pueblo. Over time, this became a tradition, despite initial bans by city authorities. In 1957 there was even a demonstration, where local residents made a symbolic “funeral of tomato”, as the expression of their protest. From that time La Tomatina Festival has become an official celebration and it is now a real tourist attraction. In 2002, the Spanish Ministry of Tourism (la Secretaría General de Turismo) acknowledged the La Tomatina Festival as Festivity of the International Tourist Interest.
Although the festival only runs for a day, preparation for this festival begins much earlier. Few tourists know, that for the purpose of this event, a special variety of tomatoes are grown, that are juicy and cheap. The whole town is absorbed in preparation for the big day. The buildings are protected by tarpaulins and the tomatoes are provided by city authorities, where on the day of the event a few trucks go inside the town. There are fire brigades, which after the battle wash the tomato sauce from the streets. Also, tourists and residents can use public showers spaced for this occasion.
The festival begins in the morning around 10 am. According to the tradition, the “tomatoes battle” technically does not begin until one of the attendees retrieves the Spanish ham that is placed at the top of the pole. This feat is not an easy task, due to the pole being greased with soap. When someone finally reaches the ham, a warning firework is shot to announce the start of the battle. The “tomato war” lasts for an hour straight and ends in the same way as it starts, by the cannon shot. The rules are clear – you can only throw tomatoes and tomatoes should be squashed before throwing them to not hurt others. You will definitely get dirty!
La Tomatina Festival each year attracts locals and tourists from all over the world, who come especially to Spain to wallow in tomato sauce just for fun. The town of Buñol for one day hosts almost all nationalities and only over 18% of all participants are Spaniards. Participation in the event is paid and requires a prior reservation.
Did you buy your ticket for La Tomatina Festival?
TRIVIA OF LANGUAGE:
Spanish (español) belongs to the Indo-European family of languages and it is classified as a Romance language. Of course, Spanish is the official language of Spain and even today is called Castilian (castellano, the language of the Castile region) to distinguish it from other languages spoken in Spain such as Catalan, Basque, and Galician. Spanish has official status in 21 countries, which is connected with the colonial history of Spain. Spanish is used around the globe, so it is easy to guess, that in many places the variations of this language are different from each other. Since the first Spaniards came to South America, Spanish has evolved phonetically, lexically and grammatically. Currently, Spanish is one the official language of international political and economic organizations like United Nations, Latin Union, European Union or World Trade Organization, making it the second most widely spoken language in the world and the third largest language of the internet.
*La Tomatina, latomatina.info/en/la-tomatina/, Viewed 21 June 2017.
*British Council, Language For The Future, https://www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/languages-for-the-future-report.pdf, Viewed 22 June 2017.