Día de San José or Saint Joseph’s Day honors St Joseph, the Virgin Mary’s spouse and is held annually all over Spain on 19 March. This date is also known as Father’s Day (Día del Padre) in many areas of the country.
In the beautiful town (pueblo) of San José where I live, the whole weekend is dedicated to fiesta (partying) and boy do they know how to do it. The celebrations start on Friday night where live music is played in the main square or plaza and there is a drinks tent selling beer, wine and tapas. This is in addition to the already crowded bars.
During the Saturday, there are all manner of crazy competitions and activities; first there are a series of children’s games running concurrently with a chess tournament, followed by a poker competition, a gymkhana display and then what must be the craziest spectacle of the day, “El Desembarco Pirata”, the annual re-enactment of pirate invasions from nearly 300 years ago – great fun! There then follows some awards and such-like, a brief projected history of San José and then live music until the wee-small hours.
On Sunday the day starts with a football competition followed by a domestic chores competition for the men of the town, go figure! Following this there are cooking competitions celebrating local Andalucían cuisine followed by the highlight of the day, a dance festival showing off a number of different styles, including flamenco displays – this lasts pretty much for the rest of the day. Many of the town’s women and girls dress up in their flamenco dresses especially for this, though not all take part in the dancing. The day is then rounded off with presentations of various trophies, awards, etc.
Monday (19 March) is Día de San José and a much more sombre affair than the rest of the weekend with some people attending special church services to honor the life of St Joseph (San José). In some parts of Spain, fallas (or falles) are constructed, displayed and ceremonially burnt. Fallas are elaborate scenes made of papier-mâché and cardboard.
This is an amazing weekend and you couldn’t wish for a better start to the spring season. The plaza is vibrant and alive with colourful people celebrating and having a good time… or even just simply watching :-)
As with most religious festivities, there is usually a number of associated “older” pagan or folkloric traditions not far away and Día de San José is no exception. 20 March is the vernal equinox otherwise known as the first day of spring. People have recognised the vernal equinox for thousands of years and there is no shortage of rituals and traditions surrounding the coming of spring. Earlier civilisations celebrated for the basic reason that their food supplies would soon be restored. The date is significant in Christianity because Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. It is also probably no coincidence that early Egyptians built the Great Sphinx so that it points directly toward the rising Sun on the day of the vernal equinox.
The first day of spring also marks the beginning of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. The celebration lasts 13 days and is rooted in the 3,000-year-old tradition of Zorastrianism.
We look forward to the coming of spring and all the visitors that we can welcome to and show around this part of the world. Please do not hesitate to contact me in this respect.