No Thanksgiving but plenty of fiestas


Thanksgiving in the USA is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November and commemorates the event that Americans commonly call the ‘First Thanksgiving’. This was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. This feast lasted three days, and it was attended by 90 Native Americans, according to an account written by Edward Winslow, and 53 Pilgrims. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating ‘thanksgivings’ — days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought.

Of course it is a particularly American tradition that is not followed in other countries outside North America but Thanksgiving Day prompted one of my nephews, Scott, to send a message to my blog site. He wrote: “I’m looking forward to visiting you both next year. Uncle could you do a piece on harvest festival, thanksgiving and what they may do in Spain. x.”

Spain being a predominantly Roman Catholic country, religious harvest festivals take place in the churches .

However, outside churches, the Spanish love a fiesta – take a look at these:

Throwing ripe tomatoes about may seem a bit strange but that is what happens at La Tomatina which has to be one of Spain’s craziest festivals. Ever since 1944, on the last Wednesday of August in Buñol, Valencia, between 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 pm, people take part in a tomato ‘war’ called the Tomatina.

September is a good month for celebrating various grape harvests, as well as the wine made with those crops. If you like sparkling wines and Cava, the nearest the Spanish get to creating a wine like Champagne, then you might enjoy a visit to Catalunya’s Cava week (see picture above).

Among the various Autumn festivals, there is the Jerez de la Frontera´s Fiestas de Otoño. Three weeks dedicated to sherry tasting, horses and flamenco. Also the Fiesta de San Mateo in Logroño (which is the heart of La Rioja, Spanish wine country) they celebrate the grape harvest with a big festival. Traditional Spanish party style at its best.

In September, the city of Barcelona celebrates its biggest fiesta, the Festes de la Merce. This is a huge festival with folkloric parades, fireworks, dragons and giants. This would be a great opportunity

As we get into October, things quieten down a bit. The month’s biggest day is Día de la Hispanidad This nationwide fiesta, though, has nothing to do with harvest. Instead it that commemorates Columbus’s landing in the Americas but not in the land that would eventually become the USA. Columbus never set foot there.



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