Buñol is a city in the center of the Province of Valencia and it has been a faithful witness of Spanish history. Occupied by Romans, Arabs, Moors, and the French, the foreign influences are considerably visible in many of the buildings, but also in the small details of daily life.
Blessed with the Mediterranean climate, Buñol has many charms that tourists know how to appreciate. At almost 350 metres above sea level, there are many activities that its mountains and streams offer, and there is an incredible view that one can have from the top. It is an industrialized town that has not lost touch with its agricultural traditions and that tries to balance its old features with a modern and technological world.
It’s at the end of August when the large contingents of tourists begin to arrive. It’s not just that the weather is better this time of year, and it’s not the start of just any cultural festival…it’s the start of the Tomatina: one of the most fun festivals in all of Spain, and arguably, of the world. It always takes place the last Wednesday of August… odd but true and otiginal.
There are only two things needed to celebrate the Tomatina: a lot of tomatoes and a lot of people. The town hall provides the tomatoes and the people have already begun to arrive from various places for a war that will only last for an hour, but that will be unforgettable.
To maintain order and avoid accidents, some rules have been established that everyone should follow. They are easy to obey and even easier to learn: It is not permitted to come in with bottles of any kind or with objects that could cause accidents; It’s not permitted to rip shirts; The tomatoes should be crushed before being thrown so as not to hurt anyone; It is of utmost importance to be aware of the passage of lorries; After the shot of the second rocket throwing tomatoes should stop.
An Absurd History
Like every town festival, every inhabitant will tell his or her own version of the facts. We choose to tell one of the versions about how the Tomatina began; the least incredible, but the one closest to the truth. It was during the year 1945 and there was a parade of “Giants and Cabezudos (figures with large heads)” being celebrated in the city center.
It seems that in this time everybody was fighting to participate and dress up. According to stories, a young man that wanted to be part of the parade punched one of the people in costume, throwing him to the ground. This man, totally outraged, began to hit everybody, beginning a true pitched battle. Suddenly, someone thought to use the vegetables from a nearby stand as ammunition and everybody copied him, opening the crates of tomatoes that were on display.
Given that the moment of throwing tomatoes at each other lasts only an hour, it’s logical that the Tomatina is accompanied by other events. After washing off and changing their clothing, people will have time to attend some games that will make them return to their early childhood.
The most common activities are, in the first place, sack races. In these races some people put the lower halves of their bodies into cloth sacks and they try to arrive at the finish line, jumping. Another traditional game is “cucuñas,” which is celebrated in Spain at almost every popular festival. For “cucuñas” a tree trunk or a polished pole is needed.
At the top of the pole a trophy is hung, in this case a ham, and afterward the entire wooden surface is soaped up. The winner is the person that can climb the soapy pole and take the trophy.
In addition to the games, those that go to Buñol in the times before the Tomatina can taste the most delicious chocolates at the “chocolatadas,” or gatherings where hot chocolate is served, and can listen to the brass bands: folk bands that will make you hear the best Spanish popular music with the force of brass and the bass drum.
REMEMBER: THE LAST WEDNESDAY OF AUGUST !!! BOOK YOUR HOLIDAY AND ENJOY!!!
THE SPANISH BRICK TEAM 🙂