As everyone already knows, Spain is famous for its exciting, over-the-top festivals which take place all across the country all year long. Now that the New Year has begun, we have a huge variety of celebrations and parties to look forward to. However, one of Spain’s craziest, most bizarre festivals is actually one that a lot of people haven’t even heard about – the Jarramplas festival.
Jarramplas being pelted with turnips
Every year on the 19th and 20th January, the small town of Piornal in Cáceres, Extremadura celebrates Jarramplas. During this festival, a man dressed in a monster-like costume covered in colourful ribbons wearing a mask runs through the streets of the town while banging a drum. While he is doing so, local people throw large turnips at him. The Jarramplas must run for as long and as far as he can until he can’t take anymore, and the longer he lasts the prouder he his.
Jarramplas running through the streets of Piornal
Although the exact origins of the festival are uncertain, there are some myths and theories around it. The most commonly believed folktale about Jarramplas is that he was once a cattle thief, as villagers threw vegetables at him as punishment when he was caught. However, there are also theories that the holiday comes from Greek mythology and represents the punishment that Hercules gave Cacus. From the Christian era, it is also speculated that Jarramplas is Saint Sebastián himself, a Christian warrior who was hated by his own companions for being a spy and surrounding himself with infidels.
a young boy getting ready to throw a turnip
Every year, a resident of the town is chosen to play the character of Jarramplas for that year. He puts on the costume in the morning, with body armour underneath to protect himself from the force of the turnips. His goal is then to make it through as much of the town as possible while the local residents continuously pelt turnips at him. The most exciting moment of the festival is in the early hours between the 19th and 20th, when Jarramplas bangs his drum as the twelve strokes of midnight ring out and the shower of turnips is at its heaviest. This celebration is very important to the town and it is a great honour to be chosen as the Jarramplas, so he must do his best to resist the punishment for as long as possible, In fact, the honour of playing the famous character is so great that many people have already enrolled their children for the opportunity on the 20 year waiting list!
a man putting on the famous Jarramplas costume
In recent years, the recognition and hype surrounding the Jarramplas festival in the small town of Piornal has increased significantly. This unique celebration has become so internationally recognised that it has now earned the title of Festival of National Tourist Interest. Due to the importance of the celebration, the organisers put a lot of effort in the preparation, which includes the design, preparation and conservation of the costume and mask; the engraving of blackjacks and tambourines and the protection of the facades of the town to withstand the rain of turnips. It is estimated that approximately 20 tonnes of turnips are used every year!
the turnips used during Jarramplas
If you are interested in taking part in this crazy yet cultural tradition and experiencing the passion of the locals, do not hesitate to contact us at across spain to find out more about our tailored Jarramplas packages.
map locating Piornal