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La Tomatina

Pictures of this holiday may look a little scary for a person who doesn't know what it's all about. But the truth is that La Tomatina is one of the most popular spanish traditions!

What it is exactly?

La Tomatina - a holiday celebrated in the Spanish town Buñol, in the province of Valencia, during which participants throw tomatoes at each other. The battle for tomatoes takes place on the last Wednesday of August, the main point of the week-long fiesta, which attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. 

History of La Tomatina

The history of Tomatina dates back to the last Wednesday in August 1945. The local youth was in the main square of Buñol, where Tomatina is celebrated today, taking part in the traditional gigantes y cabezudos parade (popular in many places in Spain and Latin America parades of great figures depicting human figures associated with history and mythology). There was a struggle between the groups of young men. After the fall of one of the participants, there was a mutual fight between the people who were there. The fate was that there was a vegetable shop in the neighbourhood, with chests full of tomatoes. The young people started throwing tomatoes at each other until the police intervened.

A year later, the same perpetrators repeated the fight, this time bringing tomatoes from their homes. As in the previous year, they were separated by the forces of law and order. The battle, which is repeated every year, has become a custom, despite the lack of official character and approval by the Mayor of Buñol.

At the beginning of the 1950s, the city council banned the organisation of Tomatina, but this did not stop some of the participants, who continued the tradition they had begun, despite numerous arrests. The inhabitants demanded the lifting of the ban and their persistence finally led to the annulment of the decision by the town hall. Each year, more and more participants arrived with bags filled with tomatoes.

In 1957 Tomatina was finally recognized by the city authorities and in the following years it was promoted as part of the annual celebration of the city.

Since 1980, tomatoes have been supplied by the city authorities, who are increasing the amount of vegetables used in the battle every year. With this increase, the number of participants from all over the world is also increasing. On August 27, 2002, the Spanish Ministry of Tourism recognised Tomatina as a holiday of international tourist value.

Preparations

Preparations for the battle start long before the last Wednesday of August. In the plantations in the Extremadura region, tomatoes for battle ripen. A special variety of tomatoes is used, which is cheaper.

Tomatina starts around 10 a.m. In order for this to happen, one of the brave members of the crowd must climb a soapy pole on top of which is a Spanish ham. The battle is about throwing tomatoes at each other. It is advisable to wear loose clothing, which is unlikely to be reusable, and to wear full and tied shoes, which will stay firmly on their feet. For safety reasons, it is forbidden to bring in objects that may pose a hazard, especially glass packaging. The rule is also a ban on tearing off each other's shirts and throwing them at each other, but this is not respected and it must be remembered that you often return from battle without the top of your wardrobe, this applies to both men and women. The battle lasts an hour and ends in a similar way as it begins, i.e. with a cannon shot.

When Tomatina is finished, the tidiness begins. The participants use public showers prepared for this purpose, often also with the help of local people, who willingly serve visitors with water from a garden hose. The streets are taken care of by the municipal services, assisted by firefighters, who rinse the hectolitres of tomato puree left over from the battle.

Around 30,000 people take part in Tomatina every year.