Pino Marro (Marro Pine) is the summer fiesta at Descargamaría, which is a town located at the Sierra de la Gata. Pino Marro takes place from August 5 through August 9 and, it is one of the most unusual celebrations in the North of Extremadura. The people of this town, with great effort, intend to maintain alive a tradition, where the main character is a tree.
Today the town of Descargamaría, a small town in Spain, has less than 200 inhabitants, but has a long history, dating back to the Spanish Middle Ages. It was a good place to rest and unpack your merchandize when travelling from one location to the other. The Sierra de la Gata, where it is located, is one of the most beautiful places in the province of Cáceres and is said to have a very good Mediterranean type climate, in winter and in summer.
Pino Marro is a celebration that has its origins in a “vetón” tradition. The vetón people lived in the Iberian Peninsula; in the area that was know to the Romans as Lusitania. They were here, before the arrival of the Romans and extended their influence all over, to present day Zamora, Salamanca, Caceres, Toledo and Badajoz. Pino Marro was a traditional celebration that took place in the winter, from Christmas until January 9. But, as the tradition was being lost, the residents decided to change the date to the summer, since it is the time when many people return home, to spend their vacations during summer season. This is a very attractive place-to-return, for the people that have moved away, since it is generally cool with a good climate, abundant water, forests and has numerous wonderful river beaches so typical of the North of Extremadura.
Otherwise, it does not matter that the “quintos” no longer exist. They are the young men that were called to serve in the military. For decades, they were the authentic champions of Pino Marro, open today to the participation of any person who can share the fun independently to their age or sex. Thus, on August 5, everybody, young and old, men and women, locals and outsiders, will concentrate at the main plaza of Descargamaría, to go together to the woods and share the “cortá”, which is the felling of the tree and also, to move the chopped tree.
On the chosen site, the strongest people will chop down an enormous pine sometimes more than twenty meters high. After, they will have to move the pine to a place called Las Erías in a very difficult journey that will probably be more than one kilometer, depending on the place where the elected pine was found. They will move the pine at the rhythm of typical dances form the Sierra and the music of flutes and drums, to make the journey more enjoyable.
Music and refreshments to continue the party
The participants will raise the tree at the pace called Las Erías and it will remain there until August 9. The setting up of the tree requires a great deal of equilibrium, effort and know how. They will require the aid of smaller logs united as if they were scissors or levers. Such a great physical effort requires a meal to replenish energies.
The site will convert into the center of celebrations, which will extend into the whole town with the rounds and parties until dawn, lead by the “mozos del chorizo” (lasses of the sausage). They will go around Descargamaría singing to the ladies and gathering food and snacks to help them through the days of partying. Hence the name of “Chorizo”, since they will receive chorizos or Spanish sausages as gifts from many homes.
The leader of the “Mozos del Chorizo” is a person who is elected, and is named: “Alcalde de los Mozos” (Mayor of the Mozos). This is a figure full of the symbolism, which is also present in the old traditions of Pino Marro. The Alcalde is also responsible for the Marro Flag, which is placed on top of the Pine Tree, for the duration of the festivity.
Popular games along the whole town
There is a great interest among the Descargamaría population to preserve the tradition of the old games. If you visit the town any time in the summer months, you will be able to see, disseminated throughout the city a number of wooden tables. These are to play Rayuela and they are closely related to Pino Marro. During the summer months, these tables are, usually, surrounded by players wanting to demonstrate their ability throwing “patacones”, which are small copper coins that when thrown should land on top of a line drawn of the surface of the table, or as close as possible to this line. The closeness to the line determines the winners.
You can also see those that compete in the game of the “Barra”. Which consists of throwing a heavy iron rod. The person that reaches the furthest distance is the winner.
Others are brave enough to play in the Marro. This is a game where two teams are organized. A space is left in the middle of he two teams and the objective is to take prisoners from the rival team.
These are games full of local taste, in the middle of a celebration, when young people were able to show their strength and ability, and were confirmed as adults, showing that they left behind their childhood. The effort placed by the people of Descargamaría, to keep alive these traditions of Pino Marro has turned it into the perfect occasion to get to know one of the most beautiful districts of the province of Cáceres, by starting in a town that wants to keeps alive and shares its memory with visitors.
– Pino Marro is celebrated every year, between August 5 and August 9 at Descargamaría in the Sierra de Gata- Cáceres
– On August 5, at 17:00 hours, five in the afternoon, is the central moment of this event, when the people of the town gather for the felling of the Pine Tree and the setting up of this tree at the site of Las Erías, where it will stand until August 9.
– This celebration also seeks to recover traditional popular games, played on the streets, such as the Rayuela, the Barra and the Marro.
Original article by Pilar Armero
Translated by Susana Windt