Throw a Tomato at the Tomatina

La Tomatina is a food fight festival held on the last Wednesday of August each year in the town of Buñol in the Valencia region of Spain. Tens of metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets in exactly one hour.

The week-long festival features music, parades, dancing, and fireworks. On the night before, participants of the festival compete in a paella cooking contest. It is tradition for the women to wear all white and the men to wear no shirts. This festival started in a casual way in 1945, but wasn’t officially recognized until 1952.

Approximately 20,000–50,000 tourists come to find out more about the tomato fight, multiply by several times Buñol’s normal population of slightly over 9,000. There is limited accommodation for people who come to La Tomatina, and thus many participants stay in Valencia and travel by bus or train to Buñol, about 38 km outside the city. In preparation for the dirty mess that will ensue, shopkeepers use huge plastic covers on their storefronts in order to protect them. They also use about 150,000 tomatoes, just about 90,000 pounds.

History
The festival is in honor 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 tomato fight has been a strong tradition in Buñol since 1944 or 1945 during the represive years of post-war Spain. No one is completely certain how this event originated. Possible theories on how the Tomatina began include a pie local food fight among friends, a juvenile class war, a volley of tomatoes from bystanders at a carnival parade, a practical joke on a bad musician, and the chaotic aftermath of an accidental lorry spillage. One of the most popular theories is that disgruntled townspeople attacked city councilmen with tomatoes during a town celebration. Whatever happened to begin the tradition, it was enjoyed so much that it was repeated the next year, and the year after that, and so on. [text (c) Wikipedia]

Leave a Reply