Want to learn more about the Spanish tomato fight? Read on for facts and info on the cultural festival of La Tomatina which involves a large-scale tomato fight in Spain…
Popularly known as the La Tomatina, is a cultural food fight festival that is celebrated in Spain on the last Wednesday of August every year. The town of Bunol in the region of Valencia is where this so-called festival is celebrated. The processions associated with the festival include thousands of people engaging in a brutal battle, which involves throwing overripe tomatoes at each other.
The festival spans over a week and although there are many other elements to the festival such as parades, music, dancing and fireworks, they are all centered on the tomato fight. The night before the actual fight the participants have a cooking contest in which the challenge is to make the best paella. According to tradition the women that participate in the event wear white clothes, whereas the men go topless.
Up until 1952 it was a very casual festival after which it gained official recognition. Approximately 50,000 tourists make their way to the Spanish town of Bunol to witness the tomato fight. The total population of the town is 9000 and hence visitors struggle to find suitable accommodation during their stay. Many of the visitors actually camp at Valencia and travel to the destination on the day of the event by bus or train. The town of Bunol is situated almost 38 km from the city of Valencia.
Since the nature of the festival is such that it is bound to be messy, extensive preparations need to be made beforehand. Shopkeepers can be seen covering the front of their shop facades with large plastic sheets in order to protect their products.
It is estimated that about 150,000 tomatoes weighing in at 90,000 pounds are wasted during the tomato fight in Spain. The locals celebrate this event with religious fervor as it is connected with the patron saints of the town, St. Loius Bertrand and Mare de Deu dels Desemparats. There are many different legends attributed to the origin of the festival. However it has attracted severe criticism from humanitarians from all across the world because of the large amount of tomatoes that are wasted during the festival. The argument that the festival is based on religious grounds has also been denied by the church and at one point in time the Spanish state actually banned the festival saying that it has no religious significance whatsoever.
The tomato fight is not the only questionable cultural festival of Spain. The annual event of the running of the bulls as well as the art of bullfighting itself is considered to violate animal rights by many people around the world. Spain is also infamous for the killing of more than 10,000 greyhounds every year after the hunting season. The tomato fight is viewed in the same light. But in that regard it is called into question because good food is being wasted in a bad way during the festival.