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“La Tomatina” de Buñol Posted by on Aug 31, 2010 in Spanish Culture

I’m starting to believe that there are celebrations for any random reason in the world. Bearing that in mind, it won’t sound so strange that in Spain we celebrate one with tomatoes. It consists in just that: people throwing tomatoes at each other.  However, the tomatoes are crushed before being thrown, so you don’t hurt the target.

The Tomatina in Buñol has become so famous that even in China they have tried to replicate it. Last August 25th, over 45,000 people from all over the world gathered together in that village from Valencia to throw 100,000 kilos of ripe tomatoes at each other. Some of them got up really early to enjoy a whole day of partying, and others had dark rings under the eyes, sign that they didn’t have a full night’s sleep, probably for the same reason. This year it was even more special, since the producers of a Bollywood movie took advantage of the occasion to shoot some scenes that will be part of the blockbuster “You only live once”; also a committee from the Korean government came over to gather information for their own version of this celebration. Amazing.

For about an hour, after hearing the sound of a really loud firework, a battle takes place that will leave both locals and visitors covered in tomato from head to toe. The sound of a second firework will mark the end of the party. Cleaning then starts, which will leave the town spotless thanks to the natural acidity from the tomatoes. It’s funny when you think that this large celebration started as a prank, or at least that’s what they say. I’ll tell you how: around 1945, during a “Giants and Big-Heads” festivity, a local young boy tried to take part in the parade, but he was not allowed to. He got so angry that he started a fight that ended up as a whole battle. Just by chance, in the same square where the fracas took place there was a produce stall, and the young fighters started using vegetables as ammunition. They must have had quite a good time in such an unusual combat, because the following year they organized the whole thing again, this time each bringing their own tomatoes from home. It was banned for a few years, but the locals still gathered together to do it. In 1957, facing a strict ban from the town hall, they celebrated “the burial of the tomato”, staging a funeral procession and carrying a coffin with a big tomato inside. This comical form of protest caught on, and two years later the Tomatina started again, reaching its status today as a Feast of International Touristic Interest in Spain.

In order to take part, you have to follow a few basic rules:

Do not carry any bottles or objects that can cause injury.

Do not tear other people’s t-shirts.

Crush the tomatoes before hurling them so that nobody gets hurt.

Facilitate the work of cleaning trucks.

Respect the start and stop fireworks.

I guess that we should add to this list a good aim, and a willingness to have a great time. And I used to think tomatoes were only good for gazpacho…

See you soon, my friends!

by aaroncorey

Empiezo a creer que en el mundo hay fiestas por todo, y para todo. Así que no es de extrañar que en España celebremos una a “tomatazo limpio”. Porque justo de eso se trata: una enorme multitud de gente tirándose tomates los unos a los otros. Eso si, el tomate se espachurra antes de lanzarse, para no hacer daño al contrario.

La Tomatina de Buñol ha conseguido tal fama, que incluso en China han intentado exportar esta especial celebración. Según las noticias, el pasado 25 de agosto se congregaron más de 45.000 personas de todo el mundo en la localidad valenciana para arrojarse unos 100.000 kilos de tomates maduros. Algunos, madrugadores para disfrutar de un buen día de fiesta, y otros con ojeras de no haber dormido demasiado, posiblemente por la misma causa. Este año ha sido incluso más especial, ya que las cámaras de Bollywood aprovecharon para rodar secuencias que incorporarán a una superproducción, “Solo se vive una vez”, y una delegación del gobierno de Corea vino a recopilar información, para una celebración propia. Increíble.

Durante una hora, tras escuchar el sonido de la carcasa, comienza el combate que dejará tanto a vecinos como a visitantes totalmente cubiertos de trozos de tomate. Eso si, la juerga terminará con el segundo disparo de la carcasa. Comienzan entonces las tareas de limpieza, dejando la ciudad limpia como una patena gracias a la acidez del tomate. Es curioso pensar que esta multitudinaria fiesta se inició por una gamberrada, o eso dicen. Os cuento: allá por el año 1945, en una fiesta de “Gigantes y Cabezudos”, un joven intentó participar en la cabalgata, pero no se lo permitieron. Esto lo enfadó sobremanera, haciendo que comenzase una pelea que terminó siendo una batalla campal. Dio la casualidad que en la plaza en que se produjo el altercado, había un puestecillo de verduras, y los jóvenes comenzaron a arrojarse las mismas como si fuesen munición. Se ve que pasaron un buen rato en tan inusual combate, porque al año siguiente organizaron otra batalla, esta vez llevando cada uno los tomates de casa. Durante algunos años se prohibió, aunque los vecinos acudían de forma espontánea a celebrarla. En 1957, ante la tajante negativa del Ayuntamiento a permitirla, se celebró un “entierro del tomate”, desfile fúnebre portando un ataúd con un gran tomate dentro. Esta cómica protesta hizo que desde un par de años más tarde se celebre anualmente, siendo hoy día Fiesta de Interés Turístico Internacional.

Para participar, solo hay que seguir unas cuantas reglas básicas:

No llevar botellas ni objetos que puedan causar accidentes.

No romper camisetas.

Aplastar los tomates antes de lanzarlos para no hacer daño a nadie.

Estar atentos al paso de los camiones que limpiarán las calles y a los asistentes.

Respetar el inicio y el fin de la “guerra”.

E imagino que a todo esto habrá que sumar una buena puntería, y ganas de pasarlo bien. Y yo que pensaba que con un tomate solo se podía hacer un buen gazpacho…

¡Hasta muy pronto amigos!

by flydime

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About the Author: Magda

Hi all! I’m Magda, a Spanish native speaker writing the culture posts in the Transparent Language Spanish blog. I have a Bachelor’s in English Philology and a Master’s in Linguistics and Literature from the University of Granada, in Spain. I have also completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, and then worked as an English teacher in several schools and academies for several years. Last year was my first at university level. In addition, I work as a private tutor, teaching English and Spanish as a foreign language to students and adults. In my free time, I’m an avid reader and writer, editing and collaborating in several literary blogs. I have published my first poetry book recently. And last but not least, I love photography!