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Saturday, November 28, 2020

The tradition of the Tablas de San Andrés

Tablas de San Andrés in olden times

The festival of Las Tablas de San Andrés in the town of Icod de los Vinos has nothing to do with the saint of the same name, but is thus known because it is celebrated on November 29 and 30, which is the day of San Andrés (St Andrew's Day) and has become a popular custom. Originally, spread by word of mouth, with the day of San Andrés taken as a reference, which is why, even today, it's known as Las Tablas de San Andrés.

The story goes that this fiesta originated from an anecdotal event: Tenerife is an island characterized by its unevenness and in some areas the slopes are steeper and in Icod de los Vinos especially. The town was well known throughout the islands for its winemaking tradition and the winemakers of old had the custom of washing the wine barrels in the sea because they said that the salt water eliminated the acids from the interior.

At that time there was no transport that allowed the barrels to be carried downhill to the sea, so they lowered them, either rolling or on some boards which slid until they reached the area near the sea. The boards also protected the barrels from possible blows that they might suffer on the way. This simple fact of going downhill with the barrel on top of a board was what caught the attention of the youngters, who turned it into a game that, little by little, became the event that is known today. The barrels are no longer transported in this manner, because over the years other more modern means began to be used, but people continue to take to the boards on the most vertiginous slopes [except this year, sadly].

This festival has become so popular that it receives visits from curious tourists who just want to see or to participate like the locals, which is why the municipality has designated specific points to make the descents in order not to create disorder or accidents.