Sunday, August 31, 2014

Strange Fiestas Spain

La Fiesta de los Nanos en Cocentaina Spain

Cocentaina is a Valencian town inland towards Alcoy at the foot of the Sierra Mariola. This area has strong agricultural roots and celebrates this with a fiesta held on All Saints day(Todos los Santos) on and around the 1st of November.

In the Pueblo looms the Clarrisen monastery, the Palace of the count and the church of El salvador. These are stand alone in their magnificence but the real attractions of Cocentaina are the warm, welcoming and open minded people.

The Nanos first appeared in Cocentaina hanging from the corners of streets in the late eighteenth century with posters, the words and dolls were there to ridicule its political and prominent figures.

A risky act even though anonymous and surprisingly no retaliations were made to this day.

Image Source

Imagination and Criticism Combined

Venture into the old town in the middle of Lent (21 days after Ash Wednesday) and there you will see some strange satirical celebrations, life size rag dolls (Nanos) have appeared miraculously overnight and take up communal areas, corners of streets and along most of the houses. Some stand and some sit alone at a table with a bottle of wine, others huddle in groups and several hang from trees.

All share in common Valencian scribed tags, some large boards and others pinned to their clothes, the majority of the messages are pointing at famous celebrities and local politicians using imagination and criticism combined.

Now days the tradition is an event covered by the media and children are encouraged to take part yet this semi commercialisation doesn’t distort the true purpose of the Nanos to get across the common man’s feelings toward certain prominent figures. Some messages poke fun and some criticise individuals with caricatures included on the particular Nanos, from as simple as a mustache to a recognisable effigy and as from the beginning no reprisals are sort after, all are taking in fun.
Image Source

Dolls are placed everywhere


La Fiesta de los Nanos en Cocentaina

Having a chat

The press comes to town

Crazy Festival Spain 

 Haro Wine Festival - Batalla de Vino (Battle of Wine)

Haro in Northern Spain, is in the middle of the wine growing region of La Rioja, and home to the annual Haro Wine Festival and the Batalla del Vino. Where the locals all arm themselves with water pistols, and splash each other with tens of thousands of litres of wine, turning everything purple.

Spain is not short of crazy festivals, but what seems silly to some, is part of the culture and traditional to others.

Of course, there are those that staunchly support this festival just for the wine - owe but for the wine.


La Rioja Wine

I remember first hearing about Rioja in a Chinese restaurant in Nottingham England. A friend at the time was having a surprise anniversary bash for his wife, and I had drove up from London and sat at a large round table, set for five couples, three of which were already there.

We had something in common, all trying to avoid sounding pretentious, admitting that we all liked French wine, and decided to order a couple of bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The absent seats were filled by a couple who made an entrance, fresh in from Tenerife, suntans and blinged out.

A forty-something fella, accompanied by a rather younger provocatively dressed twenty-something blond – we tried to ignore the cliché, but the first thing they did was spin the centerpiece, grab one of the bottles (we had opened to breath), and splash it into their glasses, without a breath downed the wine and declared, to the rest of the table “it aint quite a Rioja but it will have to do”

Now there is Rioja and there’s Rioja – I later discovered.


Haro Wine Festival

Researching for this Lens, I asked my significant other if she had heard of any crazy weird or strange holidays festivals that was going down in June, she replied “yes euro 2012 football/Soccer” – So no then.

My neighbour on the other hand, couldn’t wait to tell me about his home town of Haro in the Rioja wine region. He jumps up, and goes next door, and reappears, grinning shinny eyed, clutching two bottles of wine he had made himself, declaring this is the wine he used to throw about in the Batalla de Vino (Battle of Wine) I remember most of what he said..

Fiesta del Vino de Haro the 29th of June is penned in on all the calendars of this town, celebrating San Pedro and as usual in a Spanish fiesta it has parades and a battle.

The village parades up to the small chapel with the statue of San Felices led by the mayor on horseback, after placing the city’s flag at the top of the rock, the battle commences all the way back to the Town’s Bullring.

There are windmills, but no Don Quixote, as arms spin around throwing buckets of vino on each other, and some stories are best left unmentioned. When the levels of testosterone and home brew splash about, especially when a quaff of suppressed rivalry rears its head.

This all sounds a bit silly, but watching my neighbour tell his stories with passion and a nostalgic tear, coupled with the fact that I have been to a lot of Spanish fiestas, I would suggest it’s worth a visit.


 Colour Me Purple


The wine's not just for throwing!

Photo with permission from

Wine Battle

River of Wine

Time to dry off

This is a file from Wikimedia Commons

No comments:

Post a Comment