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Monday, November 29, 2010

Fiesta de San Andrés, Tenerife, 29th November

San Andrés food stall

Delicious roasted chestnuts, succulent pinchos and sizzling sardines are just some of the street food on offer in Tenerife's Puerto de la Cruz as part of its Fiesta de San Andrés on the eve of Saint Andrew's Day each year on November 29th.

In Puerto de la Cruz, the events are popularly known as the La Fiesta del Cacharro - Festival of Pots (although cacharro translates more to scrap metal) or Chestnuts.

Kids drag strings of tin cans and throw metal pots and pans around the streets of the town to make as much noise as possible (well, more than usual anyway).

The "Castañada" (chestnut feast) is held in the Plaza del Charco square itself.

But quite why Scotland's Patron Saint is celebrated on the island (or indeed why the flag of Tenerife is the same as the Scottish flag with a white saltire (or St Andrew's Cross) over a blue field), with Icod de los Vinos' kamikaze "tablas" or this noisy custom, seems to be one of those mysteries lost in the annals of history.

Some say it was started as a way to drive away a plague of locusts, others attribute it to the cleaning of the barrels with salt water to remove the acid build up. To do this, in olden times, they would roll the barrels down to the sea and, of course, the metal bands would make quite a racket on the cobbled streets of the town.

Despite appearances, which one might derive from the date and naming, the church assures us that these fiestas are not held to honour the Saint. The mere seasonal coincidences with the Saint's day, the time the new wine is ready and the harvest of the chestnuts - and the general habit of tacking celebrations onto the nearest Catholic feast - seem to be the simple reasons for these customs.

Flying High

Arrastre de las tablas during the fiesta of San Andres. Riding the boards down the steep streets of Icod de los Vinos - the bumpy bit.

Meanwhile in Icod de los Vinos, the principal events of the fiesta, starting with the symbolic uncorking of the first bottle from the annual vintage and the tasting of the first wines of the year from the Ycoden-Daute-Isora region, usually take place at the Casa de los Cáceres in the Plaza de la Pila from 8.00 p.m. The tablas, will be hurtling down the streets; El Plano, San Antonio, Hércules, El Salto, El Sol, Los Coches, San Andrés and others, throughout the day & night.

Photos By Jack Montgomery


Unlike so many journalists writing about the resorts, Pamela has not only actually been to Tenerife, she lived on the island for 16 years, for the majority of that time in a rural valley immersed in the local culture in a way that few outsiders have been privileged to do and gaining a wealth of knowledge about the island, its people, their customs, fiestas and celebrations that she is now able to share via this site. Fluent in Spanish, she also translated and reported for the various English-language newspapers.

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