The month of August can be lived in Extremadura from party to party that have been declared events of touristic interest. Extremadura is an extensive region in Spain, which is at the west of Madrid and borders with neighboring Portugal. The Calendar offers up to eight celebrations, with two luxurious “fiestas” that have been recently added: the “Boda Regia of Valencia de Alcántara” (Regal Wedding of Valencia de Alcántara) and the “Fuga de la Diabla” (THE ESCAPE OF THE SHE-DEVIL) at “Valverde de Leganes”. Discover all these festivities in the following order and enjoy some of the most peculiar celebrations you can imagine.
MARTES MAYOR (MAJOR TUESDAY), A MARKET CELEBRATION WHICH IS GRAND IN PLASENCIA
Every year on the first Tuesday during the month of August a very special market takes place in Plasencia. The people of this city, in Extremadura, call it the “Martes Mayor” (Major Tuesday). And it is the elation of the weekly markets that have been occurring at this location from the times of the founding of the city during the XII Century, Right on the Plaza Mayor many colorful stands are set up with all kinds of fruits and vegetables that come from the neighboring counties in the north of Extremadura.
Some of the stands are served directly by the growers, who are dressed in typical local attires as required by the tradition of the market days. You might be able to weight your purchases on an antique steelyard balance still is sometimes used by these stall keepers. Drummers and other folkloric groups liven up the market. They invite you to explore the hidden streets of the historic area of the city where more stands are installed with handcrafts where you might finds treasures a such as the typical hats made by the “Montehermoseñas” or earthenware wine pitchers made by local artisans.
THE “FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE LA SIERRA” (INTERNATIONAL FOLK FESTIVAL OF THE SIERRA) AT “FRENEGAL” IS A CHANT TO TRADITIONAL FOLKLORE
The “Festival Internacional de la Sierra” is a showcase of traditional culture that began as a dream of a folkloric group “Grupo Folklorico Los Jateros”. Now, in its 35 years of existence it offers visitors an immensely varied agenda. At “Frenegal de la Sierra” during the fifteen days of the festival it is impossible not to find groups of your liking. But the best is the atmosphere of fun and color that prevails during the FIS.
This is a festival that respects traditions and tolerance because Frenegal fills with musical and dancing groups from all over the world. This year, during 2016, the Festival will extend from July 29th through August 14. But it is a lot more to many people who love popular folk type activities because visitors can attend workshops for music and dances, international typical cuisine, flamenco nights, ethnographic markets with handcrafts, visit the historic sites of Frenegal on a horse carriage and also specific activities for children.
THE “BODA REGIA of VALENCIA DE ALCANTARA ” (REGAL WEDDING OF VALENCIA DE ALCANTARA), IS A RETURN TO THE XV CENTURY
During the first week of August, this town if the north of Extremadura returns to the XV century to rememorize the wedding “Infanta Isabel” (Princess Isabel), the first born child of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, who married Manuel I of Portugal. The town takes a leap back in time and decorates its old Jewish Gothic quarter, which will be the nerve center of a party that turns history into a touristic event. Markets, farms, falconers, soldiers, monks, fortune tellers abound in “Valencia de Alcantara” during the days before the main event. The Regal Wedding takes place the first Sunday of August, during the evening hours, in the vicinity of the church of Rocamador.
MEDIEVAL FESTIVAL “VILLA DE ALBUQUERQUE”, A CELEBRATION WITH ITS OWN CURRENCY
The town of Albuquerque in Extremadura celebrates its Medieval Festival from the 12th to the 14th of August. The main theme is the coexistence during this time of its Arabs, Jewish and Christian population. These were times of superstitions and executions, of knights with their swords always ready to be used, of witches celebrating rituals, of medieval markets and pubs.
All these places that have been set up as a theaters for the celebrations offer foods and sweets, dramatized scenes and guided tours. Everything is so real that they have their own currency: the Albuquerque Maravedi, which displaces the euro and is the only one that can be used in town during the festive days. These can be exchanged at the Town Hall, the Tourist Office and other authorized places. The use of the medieval currency increases the sensations of being in another era.
THE MAYOR OF ZALAMEA COMES TO LIFE AT “ZALAMEA DE SERRENA” EVERY YEAR DURING A FESTIVAL
The troops return to “Zalamea de la Serena” and speak poetry. But this time they are not on their way to Portugal following the orders of King Phillip II. But are in peace and being personified by the town neighbors that represent the masterpiece of Spanish classical writer Calderon de la Barca, at the real scenario where the events of this play took place.
The neighbors of the town by the hundreds, who are descendents of the people depicted by Calderon with his play, bring to life the drama on the second half of the month of August. This year it will take place from the 18th to the 21st of August, with a program that is complemented with guided tours that will take you to a visit to the house of Pedro Crespo, the Mayor of Zalamea. Also, parades of the Flanders military regiments, street events and children activities are planed during this festivity.
“LA FUGA DE LA DIABLA” (THE ESCAPE OF THE SHE-DEVIL) A TERRIFYING EVENT IN “VALVERDE DE LEGANES”
Valverde de Leganes is a small town in the province of Badajoz in the north of Extremadura in Spain. According to the 2005 census it has less than 4000 inhabitants. On August 14, it lives a very particular night of terror with the celebration of the “Fuga de la Diabla”. The event revives the eternal struggle between the “good”, represented by St. Bartholomew and the “evil” of the devil. This event is a very visual show full of evil devils and good angels, and commemorates that once a year the She-Devil escapes form the tower of the church where it was confined by the patron Saint of the village, during the wars of religion. The lights of Valverde de Leganes are turned completely off, including all houses, stores, and all other buildings. Altars are scattered around the entire town, which will be burned by the devil and its entourage, to the battle cry “Fire, fire, fire”. Neighbors of Valverde recommend going with an open mind, because nearly every body becomes evil.
“LA HERMANÁ” THE MATCHMAKING BY RAFFLE IN “LAS HURDES”
While, today, people even seek mates through the internet at “Pinofranqueado” a village in the Hurdes region of the province of Caceres, in Spain, with less that two thousand neighbors, maintains alive a very ancient and peculiar tradition. It is called “La Hermaná” and consists of drawing lots from two separate bags, one with the names of the single women in town and the other with the names of the single men in town. Luck will draw them together, while the people of town will bless the couple, if blood ties do not unite them. The presence of the girls is not recommended at the drawing. The event is held at the central plaza of the town.
They will act as a formal couple, this year 2016, until Saturday August 20th , when the dance of the Ermana ´is held out-side of the town church. The ladies will receive their couple at the home and place a wild flower corsage on their lapels. And both will walk toward the church to participate in the dance of the “ARCO” (Arch). This is the most representative moment of the festival, because the couples will stand holding hands and forming an arch like tunnel. Each couple will traverse the arch, dancing a “Jota”.
“FIESTA DE LA TENCA” (TENCH FESTIVAL), A DELICIOUS FINGER LIKING CELEBRATION
The “Fiesta de la Tenca” or also, the Tench Festival is held every August at one of the 15 localities of the Tajo-Salor group of municipalities. This is an event that has raised the status of the Tenca (Tench) one of the most popular marsh fishes, which is common in the region of Extremadura. The Tench has a juicy flesh and distinctive flavor. It is most common to eat them fried. However, recently they have been incorporated into more elaborate dishes, as evidenced by the culinary competition that will be held, this year on the “Dia de la Tenca” on August 27 at Piedras Albas in the province of Caceres, Extremadura.
Original article by planVE
Translated by Susana Windt
Published in August, 2016