When paganism and religion, joy and tradition, history, and culture come together to celebrate as one we know that fiesta season has arrived in Tenerife.
Island pilgrimages or fiestas fall into two groups; the first is historically religious services that include the procession in tribute to ‘The Saint’. Then the mass in which the population make requests for both the living and the dead as well as specifics, so it may be protection of livestock, a good harvest or any one of numerous reasons depending which saint is being honoured.
The second group is the popular party where people in traditional costumes fill the streets with colour and joy. They enjoy folklore and sporting events, demonstrations of farm work and traditional crafts such as basketry and embroidery all accompanied by good food, wine and products of the area.
June is a popular month for celebrating and some of the more important romerías taking place are …
The Pilgrimage of San Isidro, this takes place in several towns across the island. The first festival dates back to 1676 in Los Realejos. Nowadays the carts that accompany the procession are no longer pulled by oxen but trucks as they make the journey through the steep streets of the town. They are adorned with plants, branches, flowers, and farm implements and the head of a pig that has been sacrificed for the holiday. Each agricultural symbol represents a different neighbourhood in the area. People are dressed in typical Canarian costumes and many homes decorate their balconies and windows. The best livestock are on display and there are competitions to see who takes the prizes for the year. This particular event has been declared of ‘National Tourist Interest’ by the Cabildo and takes place on June 1st in Los Realejos and La Laguna while in Icod and La Mancha it is celebrated on 8th in Tacaronte on 15th and in La Orotava on 29th
The pilgrimage in honour San Antonio of Padua is held each year on the 13th June, when Granadilla became more beautiful than ever. Musical groups with their timples, lute, chácaras and guitars join decorated floats, whilst local people wearing traditional costume mingle with pilgrims from different parts of the island in one of the most important events of the region.
The fiesta of San Juan or the midsummer solstice takes place on the night of the 23rd when Tenerife has its own bonfire night. This is one of those celebrations that dates back to pagan rituals and the days of the Guanches.
And El Sauzal honours its patron San Pedro with celebrations taking place over two weeks but the main pilgrimage is on 29th this is accompanied by an animal fair, traditional games and Canarian wrestling and of course, the day winds up with music and fireworks.
Each pilgrimage has its quaint uniqueness, its flavours, smells, costumes and sounds. The one thing they all have in common is their attempt to keep alive the traditions of the island.