La Tomatina

This rather bizarre tomato fighting festival is organized in Spanish town of Buñol (about 38 kilometers away from Valenica) on the last Wednesday in August. La Tomatina festival is held in honour of the town's patron saints, St. Louis Bertrand (San Luis Bertràn) and the Mare de Déu dels Desemparats (Mother of God of the Defenseless), a title of the Virgin Mary. The festival started in 1945, but it was officially recognized in 1952.

There are several theories about how La Tomatina started. One of them mentions an annual parade of gigantic figures with big heads („Gigantes y Cabezudos“) passing through the streets of Buñol. Some young people tried to join the parade and accidentally knocked over one of the giants. He was furious and immediately attacked people he saw. The young people grabbed some tomatoes from a nearby vegetable stall and started throwing them at the man. The fight began. After some time, the police arrived and stopped everything.

The next year everything happened again. The city authorities tried to ban the "El día de la Tomatina" but with little success. The event just kept growing and becoming more popular. On the night before the tomato fight, participants of the festival compete in the paella cooking contest. During the competition the women wear all white and men do not wear shirts.

Paella Valenciana
Paella Valenciana

Paella is a traditional dish which originates in Spanish Autonomous Community of Valencia. It is made of rice, saffron, olive oil and other ingredients like for example seafood.

The first event of La Tomatina begins at about 10 a.m. A ham is put on top of a pole. A competitor has to climb and get it. To make the mission much more difficult the pole is greased. Everything is accompanied by loud singing and dancing. When someone accomplishes the task and gets the ham the main event is starting. Trucks bring tomatoes.

Tomatoes for the Tomatina are brought from Spanish province of Extremadura. These tomatoes are of lower quality and can not be used as food. The whole battle, or maybe better huge chaos, starts with firing of water cannons.

La Tomatina
La Tomatina

Tomatoes must be squashed before throwing them. It is done to avoid injuries. It is allowed for the participants to wear safety goggles and gloves. Some other objects, like for example bottles, are forbidden as they may provoke violence.

Some rules are not obeyed. You are not allowed to tear other people’s clothing but this happens very often. After exactly one hour the cannon strikes again meaning that La Tomatina is over.