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Friday, September 14, 2007

How to enjoy a Tenerife Village Fiesta

Putting out the flags and banners like every job in the Canaries takes 6 people. One to do, 5 to watch.

In towns and villages throughout Tenerife and the Canary Islands, the annual fiestas are a very important event in the social calendar. In olden times, they were probably the best - and often only - opportunity young people got to find a mate and these fiestas are still very much a thanksgiving for the harvest. Part carnival, part village fete, part harvest festival and part country show, the amount of organization that goes into these events - every village has its own association or committee of fiesta organizers - often seems quite disproportionate to the size of the population it aims to entertain.

In the case of the Grandes Fiestas in honor of Nuestra Señora de la Consolación 2007 in El Palmar, that's only about 600 of us, but especially in rural areas such as this, where until very recently, most people relied entirely on backbreaking subsistence farming, this once-yearly chance to really enjoy themselves was, and still is, fully appreciated.

The island people also want to share these celebrations with others and to do themselves proud, so it's a matter of good hospitality to offer guests far more than they could possibly want. After months of planning, visible preparations began a week before with putting out the flags and, local authorities too make a point of saying that these old customs need to be preserved and act as tourist attractions.

All you need to do is come along, watch or participate and enjoy.

(These fiestas are all free to attend, financed partly by town halls and partly by voluntary contributions. So, if you do attend, if you can afford it, please consider finding someone in a tshirt that says "Commission de fiestas" and offering a contribution.)

The stage is set for the nightly entertainments

The temporary bar is installed

The square is bedecked with ribbons