Tejina is a small town in the municipality of La Laguna in the north of Tenerife. There are about 6000 people living there who mainly rely on agriculture and work derived from it for their livelihood. As with many farming communities the harvest festival is an important event and the people of Tejina have a rather unusual way of celebrating it.
During the month of August the town slowly builds up to a major celebration. The festive programme, honouring their patron San Bartolomé, lasts approximately two weeks and includes cultural events, sports, marching bands, a “Battle of Flowers” with fun and entertainment for all and finally culminates, around the 24th August (the last Sunday) with the “Hearts”.
The origins of this tradition, like other cultural expressions of a similar nature are unknown. It is believe the offerings of flowers, fruit, laurels and herbs was common in the festivities of the Guanche people, the original island inhabitants, who celebrated a festival called Beñesmén – so probably dates back to that time.
The modern day fiesta is an exciting mixture of both old and new rituals. The whole village comes together in friendly rivalry and three streets Calle de Arriba, Calle de Abajo and El Pico compete to outdo each other with their beautifully decorated hearts.
The Hearts known as “Corazones” are made out of wood and metal and decorated with flowers, fruit and cakes called “tortas”. Each heart is around 12m tall and weighs about 1000kg it is made up of a large heart underneath a small heart and topped with an enormous crown of flowers. It takes around 25 men to carry them from their respective neighbourhoods to the church square.
The processions are escorted by dancers and along the route supporters of each of area sing songs and shout out sarcastic comments to their rivals. The rivalry reaches its peak as each street’s band pays tribute to their heart. At noon the Hearts are solemnly offered to St Bartholomew then raised up in the air for the crowds to admire. Late the following day they are ritually dismantled and the fruit and cakes thrown to the public. People party and dance in the square until nightfall when the festival comes to an end with the burning of a rag doll called “El Haragan” which marks the return to the normal life in the village after a week of song, dance and fireworks.
The Corazones de Tejina is a festival that continues because the local people recognise and are willing to maintain and pass on tradition. It is so quirky, expressive and dramatic it attracts visitors from all over the island so come and lose your heart and soak up the fun at Tenerife´s most unusual summer fiesta.