La Tomatina

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The La Tomatina festival is held on the last Wednesday of August every year the town of Buñol in the Valencia region of Spain. This festival is where people throw tomatoes at each other for fun! It is one big food fight!

The most popular theory on how this festival started is that during a parade in 1945, two young men who wanted to be in the event staged a brawl. They used tomatoes from a nearby vegetable stall to throw at each other. The following year several young people repeated the fight on the same Wednesday in August, this time bringing their own tomatoes. They were once again dispersed by the police.

After subsequent years it was banned again with threats of serious penalties. In the year 1957, some young people planned to celebrate “the tomato’s funeral”, with singers, musicians, and comedies. The main attraction however, was the coffin with a big tomato inside being carried around and a band playing the funeral marches. Considering this popularity of the festival and the alarming demand, 1957 saw the festival becoming official with certain rules and restrictions. These rules have gone through a lot of modifications over the years.

The festival started at approximately 10am in the morning when the first event of the day. The goal is to climb to the top of a greasy pole to knock a ham off of the top! It is made even more difficult by people spraying you with water. Once this has been done a shot is fired to signal that the tomato fight can begin. The fight lasts for exactly one hour and up to 40 tons of tomatoes are used. Once the ‘fight’ is over the town square is totally red! Fire Trucks hose down the streets and participants use hoses that locals provide to remove the tomato paste from their bodies. Some participants go to the pool of “los peñones” to wash. After the cleaning, the village cobblestone streets are pristine due to the acidity of the tomato disinfecting and thoroughly cleaning the surfaces.

This sounds like brilliant fun. I wonder if the Atlas staff can re-enact the festival on market day in St Albans…?

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