Every year in the city of Zaragoza, thousands of people fill the streets in order to celebrate the patron saint Virgen del Pilar (Virgin Mary of the Pillar). Men, women, and children, the old and the young come out to watch the parades, hear a service in the cathedral, and drink the night (or day actually) away with gallons of red wine. This is my first time in Zaragoza and my first time attending this week-long crazy festival. I’m happy to say that I survived my first Spanish festival and I got to see a new and beautiful city. Here’s a little history and fun pictures about my time in Zaragoza during this festival
The main events of the festival include la Misa de Infantes, the Offering of Flowers, Pontifical Mass, the Offering of Fruits, the Glass Rosary Parade, and the Giants and Big heads who walk around the festival and in the parades. I didn’t attend any of the masses but I can imagine crowds of religious locals and foreigners alike paying homage to the city’s saint. When I say the city’s saint, I mean that every big city in Spain has a saint and every saint has a special day. For this saint her big day is October 12th and she is the patron saint of Zaragoza which is why the festival is celebrated in this city.
During the many parades, firework shows, and everywhere outside of the religious parts of the festival there are hundreds of people clutching onto gallon jugs of wine getting refills from the various trucks with kegs of wine. You have to be a part of certain groups to take advantage of the refills from trucks like these. It kind of works the same way as the casetas during La Feria in Sevilla where you need to be a part of a group in order to have those kind of perks. We saw many different groups donning a special color shirt or logo getting access to these trucks of delicious wine. Oh well, you can easily buy your own gallon of red wine at the local supermarkets for about 3 Euros which definitely wasn’t a problem for us.
(The Americans showing everyone the “one knee chug”)
Every night at around 7pm there is a parade. We just happened to stumble upon a free space on the curb as we wondered what people were lining up for. We eventually asked and we found out that the parade was coming through here. We got really lucky. To be honest the parade is a little fuzzy from about the middle to the end but the pictures that I took tell me that there were the giants and big heads, papier- mache folklore animals, and energetic clowns and jokers. It looked really fun.
After the parade we just spent time with the locals and other tourists dancing and drinking in the streets until we went to a club around midnight. A snack break at one of the sandwich stands after the fireworks was definitely needed between the partying in the streets and club. I honestly don’t know how the Spanish can do this every night. I can barely do one! It was an insanely fun night in Zaragoza though. I was only there for two days and one night but the energy and life of that festival in those days are a memory that I will keep forever.
Which Spanish festivals have you been to? Let me know in the comments below!