Spain’s Entroida Festival: Vinegar and Angry Ants
In a small municipality in Galicia, north-west Spain is an annual festival that is as crazy and weird as the Jarramplas Festival. But instead of rock-solid turnips, revellers in Laza throw very angry fire ants at the faces of unsuspecting passers-by during the Entroida Festival.
Entroida is a Galician version of the global Catholic celebration Carnaval. However, many details make it unique from other Carnaval celebrations in Europe. Like Carnaval, Entroida happens every year before Lent and involves costumes, food and drinking. But the similarity ends there as Entroida also has a bizarre combination of vinegar, fire ants and mud.
The festival takes place on the three Fridays before Lent and the four days before Ash Wednesday. There are five distinct parts of the Entroida. On the three Fridays, the people of Laza run around the streets wielding torches of hay. Those who do not want to join the running instead throw loads of dirt from their windows and terraces, hitting as many runners as they can.
Saturday is unusual because the revellers become extra gluttonous: locals dance, sing and eat their fill of grilled goat, pig head and local desserts. On Sunday, the ‘official’ Entroida day, a couple of men will dress up in festive, masked costumes and wear noisy cowbells as they play the role of Peliqueros. The Peliqueros are uncontrollable and very boisterous and not all that nice as they wield whips and playfully lash at anyone and everyone. In addition, the Peliqueros can barge inside homes and gorge at the family’s food and drinks while the family, as expected, looks on.
The painful part of the Entroida is known as the Farrapada, a muddy, sloppy and painful version of a water fight. The Farrapada is a free-for-all at the town square involving mud-soaked rags (in some occasions, flour is used) that happens towards the end of the Entroida. The afternoon once again turns more playful and less painful as the moreno takes to the streets. The moreno’s job is to lift women’s skirts with its horns and make insulting gestures. Floats, parades and more food finish up the afternoon.
The final part of the Entroida falls on a Tuesday and is celebrated with the testament do burro or testament of the donkey. On this day, locals meet together on a night of sarcasm as they distribute donkey parts to different townspeople so that they might reverse bad fortunes from the previous year.
What makes Entroida Festival so wild is the extremes the locals would take to inflict pain, which tradition tells them will help to purify their souls. The festival is said to have originated from the ancient Galician’s spiritual connection with the earth, hence the mud and the fire ants.