BY: HANNAH HORN
Since 1945, every last Wednesday of August buzzes with excitement as Buñol, an extraordinary Valencia region in Spain, prepares for a thrilling week. Some may wonder what the commotion is all about, feeling surprised to hear of a harmless festival of over-ripe tomato throwing. Although, there is much more to the La Tomatina festival in Spain than just throwing tomatoes, such as memorable parades, lots of music, dancing, and even thunderous fireworks!
Buñol has a regular population of approximately 9,000 people, though for this event, numbers greater than 20,000 will show from all over the world to simply have fun. To prepare, hundreds of trucks haul the collective amount of tomatoes from Extremadura, where prices are cheaper, towards the center of town known as the Plaza de Pueblo. To avoid the mess that will skyrocket at about 11:00 a.m. that morning, many shopkeepers in town will cover their storefronts for protection. To show more impressive support of the fiesta, a paella cooking contest is held the night before the grand moment. For safety precautions, participants are highly encouraged to wear protective safety goggles, gloves, to squish their tomatoes before they are thrown, and to bring nothing at all (bottles or hard objects). It is also very inappropriate to tear others clothing or to create dangerous brawls.
For the notable first event of La Tomatina, a ham is placed upon a large greasy pole waiting for someone to climb to the top and bring it down with victory. To begin, a cannon is fired loudly as the crowd erupts to reach the ham. Once it reaches the ground, the fighting is allowed to commence. After about an hour or two, a cannon is fired to signal the end of the tomato pit and to issue the process of cleaning it all up. Hardworking fire trucks are expected to hose down streets while the people find water, such as the Bunol river, to wash themselves clean. It isn’t too much of an issue with only being about 30 kilometers or 19 miles from the Mediterranean.
To think, La Tomatina came to exist from a Spain market quarrel during the well-known Giants and Big-Heads figures parade of 1945. Quickly expanding as a pre-planned tradition for pure entertainment purposes despite the early ban on it in the 1950s. Protests upon arrests, the unique La Tomatina festival finally was permitted as an official holiday for its people. The idea has become so successful, for example, it has branched in other small cities of big places such as Colorado, Nevada, Colombia, Costa Rica, China, India, and even of Indian state of Karnataka. La Tomatina of Spain has also reached the influence of media culture, appearing in songs, movies, and even musical films. Will you be apart of the unusually rare celebration for this upcoming 2019 carnival?
Watch the battle of tomatoes in action!