Traditions of San Andres

Saturday, August 24 was a holiday in San Andrés. As I said in my previous post, the Spanish seem to find any reason to party. Throughout the summer, all the towns throw a celebration, usually for the idea of giving thanks for a good harvest and/or acknowledging and celebrating the town’s patron saint, which there is the Virgin of San Andrés. Every town celebrates a different weekend throughout the month of August and into early September. This past weekend, the fiestas was in San Andrés. San Andres is a tiny rural town, or hamlet, in the Rioja, one of the autonomous regions of Spain, tucked neatly in the valley of the mountains.

The celebration starts around noon with a tradition dance. Many of the younger people, like Loreto and her brother, Adrian (my friends that I’m staying with) take up the castañuelas, or castanets, and put on the traditional local garb for an hour of dancing through the streets, played to a flute-like instrument and drum.

After the dances, there is a huge community almuerzo. Kilos of food are purchased and personally prepared by the people to serve to everyone attending. Almost 20 tables and benches are set out for everyone. This year, they made a tuna-salad-type food (¡deliciosa!) followed up by thin fillets of chicken. Of course there was plenty of wine and bread to go around!

Night activities divide the men, women, young adults, and children into separate groups to party out the night as they please. We jovenes (young) spent the night chatting, drinking, and talking until the early hours of the morning.

Traditional Rioja Dancing

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