Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Online Mass from La Caleta for San Sebastián

Figure of San Sebastián being taken to Enramada Beach. Photo: Adeje Town Hall

It was inevitable that this event would also become a casualty of the pandemic and Adeje announced that celebrations of San Sebastián were reduced to the religious functions

The traditional celebration of events in honor of San Sebastián, co-patron of Adeje, will be reduced this year to religious functions in the Church of San Sebastián de La Caleta throughout this week, from January 18 to 22. This has been agreed by the City Council and the parish in application of all health security regulations and restrictions for the pandemic.

There will be no festive events, no blessing or presence of animals in Playa de la Enramada. The celebrations will be limited to a series of masses, with limited capacity, organized by the parish, of which one of them - the mass at 12:00 midday on Wednesday 20 January 2021 - will be offered live by streaming through the social networks of the church itself and Adeje Council's Facebook Page and YouTube channel. The church is considering allowing a telematic pilgrimage, placing an image of the saint live on social networks so that all the faithful can visit him through the internet.

In addition to the main mass, another seven will be held throughout the week and with the same capacity limitation, 80 people, in each of them. This limitation complies with the rules for religious acts that allow the occupation of one third of the maximum capacity of the premises. Monday to Friday there will be a celebration at 6:00 p.m., on Tuesday a second at 8:00 p.m. and on Wednesday, two more, at 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. (main).

Both the council and the parish remind citizens of the limitations of mobility, capacity and gatherings and it is stressed that the gathering or blessing of animals will not be held as is traditional, so it is requested that they refrain from bring pets, horses, cattle, etc.

Fiestas of San Sebastián in other times

San Sebastián, co-patron of the municipality of Adeje together with the Virgen de la Encarnación and Santa Úrsula, celebrates its feast on January 20. In recent years it has become one of the celebrations that gathers the most people in the whole South of Tenerife, demonstrated by the large influx of people related the agriculture and livestock of the region and the island who gather at the mythical site of Playa de la Enramada.

Horse riders in the sea at Enramada Beach in other times. Photo: Adeje Town Hall

The entire town of Adeje, as well as people from neighbouring municipalities, from the north of the island and even from neighbouring island, La Gomera participate in the San Sebastián festivities. From the elders, who don't miss the opportunity to talk about the old times, to the smallest children, all have made this festival an obligatory meeting point.

The big day of San Sebastián begins early in the morning, with the holy mass, after which the venerated image leaves the temple towards the sea, preceded by a retinue of horsemen, who year after year, surprise the curious congregated in the area, taking their animals into the sea, a show that combines devotion to Saint Sebastian and love for animals.

In addition to this unique equestrian encounter, all those present, but especially the little ones, enjoy the procession accompanied by oxen, cows, goats, sheep, camels and sheepdogs. This concludes in the Plaza de San Sebastián, where the parish priest proceeds to bless the animals.

The folk music and dances of the region (folias, isas, seguiridillas, tajarastes), stalls, Canarian artisan products, food and the wines of the islands and the municipality have their leading role to supply the thousands of congregants who meet in the surroundings of the old hermitage that bears the name of the patron saint and miracle worker.

The video below - a five minute summary of the Fiestas of San Sebastián in 2020 - shows the wonderful, fun, spontaneous 'chaos' that these festivities always seem to be. It amuses me that the person who made the video just stumbles upon the event, having seen the crowds from their hotel and decided to see what it was. Onlookers seem to have no idea what's going on either (they would if they read Secret Tenerife!), but that doesn't stop them from enjoying it. It's something else to look forward to, when the world turns again.

History of the Fiestas of San Sebastián 

This is a very old fiesta. It began in the early years of the 16th century in a place of worship prior to the Conquest of the Canary Islands and, over the years, it has been adapting to new customs. Over the years, farmers and ranchers in Adeje and throughout the island have increased their devotion to this patron saint, but in a very special way because of the statue of San Sebastián that was in the old hermitage. Many miracles are attributed to this image. Still today, many are the people who resort to San Sebastián de Adeje with the hope of a quick cure of their ailments or to request a favor or fulfil the promise.

This festivity encourages a meeting in which adults and young people revive a tradition that goes beyond the religious, contributing to the strengthening of the spirit of coexistence and harmony among the inhabitants of the region. [That part will be sorely missed.]

Playa de la Enramada Photo: Marc Ryckaert, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons