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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: FIESTA de SAN ISIDRO FROM SPAIN!

Friday, June 7, 2013

FIESTA de SAN ISIDRO FROM SPAIN!



    San Isidro is the patron saint of the peasants and laborers and is also the patron saint of Madrid. Tradition has it that on May 15th the people of Madrid are to make a pilgrimage to San Isidro's meadow to celebrate his day and to drink the holy water of his fountain in his hermitage's patio. Madrid's biggest "fiesta" is celebrated yearly starting on the Friday before the 15th and running until the following Sunday, 9 days of Saintly jubilee throughout the Comunity of Madrid.







    You can visit the church of the same name on calle Toledo - built over the site where the miracle purportedly took place - about two blocks from the Plaza Mayor. The church holds a small museum with exhibits including the famous well along with a small collection of archaeological findings excavated in the region of Madrid.






    Like most in Spain, this Madrid festival has largely lost its religious character. Instead, the city government uses San Isidro as a platform to represent the best of Madrid culture, old and new, from bullfights to break dancing. You'll enjoy a full calendar of concerts, plays, parades, fairs and special art exhibits, most free of charge.
Gigants (people on stilts) with "cabezudos" (big, satirical papier mache heads) parade around the city center, usually on the first Saturday afternoon of San Isidro.






    Legend has it that San Isidro was a poor peasant farmer and he and his wife Santa María de la Cabeza,were very popular, due to their generosity and always donating food to the poor. So, although the tradition and background of San Isidro is religious and rather mellow, as per usual, it did not take much arm-twisting for the Spaniards to turn it into a veritable bash. Long live the fiestas of Spain!
    Weekend partying is centered day and night around the Plaza de las Vistillas, Plaza de San Andrés and Puente de Segovia in the Austrias neighborhood, near the Plaza Mayor. At night, bars set up shop on the street, or "chiringuitos." Good luck elbowing your way through the hordes to get a "mini," the Spanish term for a huge plastic cup of mojito, beer, cocktail or mixed drink






    Many revelers still dress up in the traditional garb of the period called "Chulapo or Chulapa" which is Madrid's national dress. "Chulapa/o" comes from the word "Chulo" which means "a bit full of oneself" or "very dapper" and since the Madrileños consider themselves the most audacious, the name stuck. They pride themselves on being true Madrileños and the men wear a checkered cap, waistcoat and handkerchief around their necks while the women's getup is composed of fancy lace ridden dresses complete with a headress and elegant wrap around shawl.







    Snack venders with "Barquilleros", "wafer barell organs", can be found everywhere selling their "Barquillos" or "angel?s bread", some dipped in chocolate and others just plain wafery! These snacks are traditional of festivals in Madrid but you can find them all year round as well. San Isidro is also the ultimate bullfighting festival. Scoring tickets to the hot "corridas" or bullfights can be next to impossible unless you have contact.







    San Isidro is without a doubt Madrid's most melodious fiesta. The main stage is always in the Plaza Mayor and during every day and night of the 9 day festival, one can enjoy various concerts and traditional dancing. Most opening acts kick off with a "Hevia", a rather popular bagpipe and wind instrument player from Asturias. The another even bigger venue in the Casa de Campo which features rock concerts.







    San Isidro has been an official festival in Madrid since 1947 and while technically the festivities run from May 8th to the 15th, like good Spaniards they stretch the fun and always start earlier and end later. The festival actually begins with the Mayor's speach on the Friday afternoon prior to the 15th and ends with the ever popular Cocido Madrileño or public Cookout.

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