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La Tomatina

A new tradition in Spain: the greatest and funniest food battle in the world. There is in Buñol, Valencia

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It is said that on the last Wednesday of August of 1945, a group of friends caused one of the participants of the Giants and Big-Heads parade to fall down in a village near Valencia. The injured citizen, in a fit of explosive rage, began chasing the gang throwing at them anything he found on his way. He finally arrived to a vegetable peddler and, realizing how effective can this ammunition be, started throwing tomatoes at the kids.

Of course, when one is so angry, he doesn’t know what one’s shooting at, so the tomato throwing soon became a battle royal in which the whole town took part. At the time, neither the gang of friends nor the injured citizen knew that they had just founded one of the quaintest traditions of Spain.

You don’t know which one? If we tell you “Buñol” and after it we mention the word tomatina, you then have no more doubts, right? Come on! You surely have once seen a TV show in which this strange fight is mentioned!

In fact, now that we mention it, this fiesta became famous through a TV show in 1983. In it, there was a documentary portrait of the city and they told how the tomatina fiesta was even banned and reinstituted in the fifties, to be celebrated every last Wednesday of August ever since.

Spaniards felt curious after that documentary, and started to visit Buñol to assist to a fiesta without any political or religious meaning, nor linked to any saint (a very strange thing in our country). Also foreigners were attracted by the irresistible charm of the tomato turned into a weapon of fun, especially from 2002 on, when the Spanish government declared the Tomatina a Fiesta of International Tourist Interest.

Today the Tomatina is a key fiesta for many people, and some think that it one day will become as famous and important as the San Fermin Festival. A proof of its success is the number of international fiestas that have arisen in the image of the “Buñol battle”: from the India to Milwaukee there are similar celebrations. But there is no one like the original, we tell you… there is even a village called Xilxes which is entirely dedicated to the production of tomatoes to be used in the Tomatina!

So now you know: if you want to take part in something “different” this August and you aren’t worried about ending up soaked in gazpacho, the Tomatina is the thing to do!

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