Local festivities and traditions
Local festivities and traditions
The character of a town is felt in the traditions it preserves and how they are celebrated.
The heart of a Portuense (native of Puerto de la Cruz) belongs to the sea and it beats loudly when sharing its wonders with others and celebrates it, proudly, next to the sea.
Throughout the year there are popular, religious and pagan festivals which, together with a varied and quality cultural programme, makes Puerto de la Cruz a city full of life and very attractive for the eager minded.
The Carnival, as in the rest of the world that follows the Christian calendar, is celebrated in the months of February or March. El Puerto, declared by the International Tourist Interest, is one of the most important on the island. It lasts for about two weeks and is a burst of colour and rhythm in the city.
Interestingly, Puerto de la Cruz and the German city of Düsseldorf have more than thirty years of carnival exchange. And that the first Coso (parade) of Puerto de la Cruz was celebrated in 1910.
The programme of events includes the Cabalgata Anunciadora, the popular dances in the squares and streets of the centre, the Great Coso Apoteosis, the Burial of La Sardina, and the Election of the Adult and Children Carnival Queens.
There are two activities that are part of the carnival tradition of Puerto de la Cruz, which make it unique: the “Mascarita” and “Mataculebra” rituals.
Mascarita: Put on your heels!
Of all the acts of the Puerto Carnival this is, perhaps, the most popular. Although it is a very simple party, it is so funny, that even the most serious of observers can’t help but smile.
It is a frantic men’s race, which has being going on for 23 years and has even been copied elsewhere in Europe. The men, dressed in carnival clothes (not forgetting the wig, glitter, false eyelashes and 8 centimetre high heels), try to defy the laws of gravity, avoiding obstacles on the cobbled streets of the city centre. The tour begins and ends at the Plaza del Charco, after passing through the San Telmo promenade and Calle Santo Domingo.
El carácter de un pueblo se palpa en las tradiciones que conserva y
en el modo en que las celebra.
Mataculebra, it is a ritual of Afro-Cuban origin, which had its first echoes on the island of Tenerife in the late nineteenth century and is believed to have been introduced by Manuel Díaz, known as Manuel Catalina. Each year it is represented by schoolchildren from Puerto de la Cruz.
The origin of this burlesque expression is found in the population of black African slaves who arrived in Cuba, and in their troupes, typical of the struggle for freedom. The death of the serpent depicts the death of evil and the symbolic representation of the exploitation of blacks in the slave system of the American island.
Mataculebra is part of the so-called “emigration folklore”, as well as other new genres that have come from there, such as the joropo, rumba, caringa, caballos fufos, habaneras or the Cuban point, and is one of the contributions that at the end of the last century and beginning of the present, were done by the emigrants who returned from Cuba.
For more than a month, students from various schools in the city focus on the preparations and of all of them, only a few revive it in the street during the Monday Carnival. The ritual is represented by the ‘Los Negritos’ and El Mayoral (the white master) who, by force of whip, imposes to kill the snake, the symbol of evil power.
Carnaval de Verano
En el mes de septiembre, las comparsas, batucadas y verbenas vuelven a colorear las calles de Puerto de la Cruz con su alegría y su irreverencia: es el nuevo Carnaval de Verano, que llegó para quedarse. Sin ser una réplica del ya emblemático Carnaval de invierno, sí comparte espíritu y repite “Mascarita ponte tacón”, la alocada carrera de obstáculos sobre tacones, pero, en esta versión veraniega, sin competición.
Ya lo sabes: si planeas viajar en septiembre a Tenerife…, mete el disfraz en la maleta.
Easter (Holy Week)
he magna procession of Santo Entierro, on Good Friday, begins at eight in the evening and runs through the streets of the city with a total of 13 steps accompanied by numerous hooded cofrades in the Seville style. A special time to appreciate the religious and artistic aspects of the images of the Great Power of God, St. John the Evangelist, St. Peter the Penitent, the Christ of the Column, the Christ of Humility and Patience, the Sorrowful, the Veronica, the Nazarene, The Christ of the Health, the Magdalena, the Mercy, the Christ of the Mercy and the Solitude.
Something very nice to see are the carpets of Corpus Christi, which are very carefully made by all the members of the family. They occupy several streets of the city, forming beautiful tapestries with flowers, sand and seeds. The most popular of the island are in La Orotava, just a few minutes away, so if this catches your eye, do not hesitate to visit them.
Foundational Festivals and Festivals of the Cross
They are celebrated on May 3, remembering that in 1651 the first district mayor took office. They begin with a solemn mass followed by a procession with the Silver Cross (co-patron of the city together with the Virgin of Our Lady of the Rock of France) along with firecrackers and fireworks that are let off throughout the route.
In the afternoon it is traditional to visit the chapels dedicated to the more than thirty Holy Crosses in the city and to admire the beautiful floral decorations. There are also noteworthy shrouds, always in the form of the letter “M”, some of them very old and made in fine fabrics embroidered in gold, painted or simply white, symbolising purity.
It is said that the cross that gave name to the municipal term was the one that was in the facade of the Customs House in the Dock; along with other crosses that were appearing throughout various points in the city in chapels, private houses or hermitages, a Stations of the Cross was formed. In May, these crosses are adorned with native flora. Among them stands the Green Cross, in the street Mequinez, which is decorated with artificial flowers made of thorns and fish scales.
Some of the crosses were then placed to follow the custom of the Station of the Cross, which symbolises the way of Jesus to Golgotha through stops or stations; other times they were placed on the occasion of a violent death or accident. There are some that indicate the crossing of roads or the limits of population. Others also served to point out specific geographical points such as the peñones, which are large rocks that usually carry some geographical or historical significance.
Festivals of the Great Power and of the Virgin del Carmen (July Festivals)
From 1st to 30th July, Puerto de la Cruz celebrates the feasts in honour of its patroness, the Virgin del Carmen; a very beloved event in the city, where the fishing essence of the city with the religious devotion and the popular party are brought together. For most of the fishermen this is a long awaited day, in which they sing to the virgin the “Salve Reina de los Mares” (Hail the Queen of the Seas).
More than a hundred activities take place on the streets of the city, including festivals, sports competitions, eating of grilled sardines, workshops, children’s activities, exhibitions and religious celebrations.
The processions of the Great Power and the Carmen run through the most aristocratic streets of the centre and those of the old fishing district, La Ranilla, to the military step of drums and trumpets. From the church of La Peña de Francia leaves the Virgin del Carmen in procession along with San Telmo, amid singing and chanting. A pyrotechnic display closes on the fishing pier. Then the images return to their respective churches.
The Embarkation of the Virgin del Carmen and San Telmo
The people of El, Puerto continue to embark the Virgin of Carmen every July to ask for abundant fishing for the whole year. It is the great party of the town, which begins with the traditional Diana Floreada, followed by the chocolate party and la Gran Cucaña (a pole climbing tradition).
After the mass at 17.30 hours, the Virgin leaves the Church of Our Lady of the Rock of France loaded by the fishermen and surrounded by thousands of devotees and travellers, who accompany the Virgin of Carmen and San Telmo in their procession through the neighbourhood. Then arriving at the pier, the images are carried in boats to cross all along the coast of the municipality. At the pier, thousands of people congregate to watch the Virgin depart to the rhythm of the waves, amidst other festive activities and general jubilation.
El corazón del portuense es marinero; late fuerte cuando comparte con otros su suerte y lo festeja, orgulloso, junto al mar.
The Virgin del Carmen has been Patroness of Puerto de la Cruz since a relatively recent date, in 1922, when the parish priest of the Peña de Francia proposed to the sailors and fishermen who went to Los Realejos to bring a Virgin del Carmen to the city. The image arrived in 1923 making its terrestrial marine route, but it was not until 1954, that the sculptor Angel Acosta donated to the city the sculpture that is adored today.
Festivals of San Juan June 22nd, 23rd and 24th
Since long ago, the habit of spending the shortest night of the year (June 23) in Playa Jardín has continued. With the food already prepared, families or groups of friends gather around bonfires and enjoy live music, the echo of the bucio, and the piromusical spectacle that comes from the stage located in front of the Castle of San Felipe.
Also the tradition of the decoration of water pipes and public fountains with elaborate floral garlands has been conserved. These fountains played a fundamental role in the water supply to the neighbourhood, and were used as meeting places and scenes of love affairs. Many of these sources of water have been in operation until recently.
During the night of June 21st and the morning of June 22nd, neighbours decorate the seven fountains with flowers, fruits, vegetables and branches; Long hours are spent dressing them, and it is tradition to make the journey to see them work and observe these artistic results.
At the dawn of San Juan, the goatherds march with their herds through the ravines until arriving at the pier, where they purify and clean their flocks, as did their ancestors: it is the Traditional Bath of the Goats.
The origins of this rite are lost in time, although the most widespread belief is that it was the custom of the aborigines of Tenerife, the Guanches, who took their flocks to the coast to remove the dirt and deworm them, preparing them for the season of the pairing, Heal small wounds, and perform probable purification and / or offering rites.
Festivals of San Andrés
Popularly known by the name of “The Fiesta del Cacharro” and the “Chestnut”. On the night of November 29th, young people concentrate in the Plaza del Charco to throw “innate” innumerable brass and metal pots and old objects that fall to the ground making noises that echo through different streets. In the same square the “Castañada”, festive act is celebrated where you can taste typical products of the island: chestnuts, cherne (type of fish), kneaded gofio, sweet potatoes and wine. It is the party in honor of San Andrés that remembers the old celebration of the opening of the wineries and the premiere of new wine.
n the month of August the Oktoberfest takes place, organised by the Center of Initiatives and Tourism of Puerto de la Cruz; A celebration of German culture in its subtropical house, which has already completed 47 events. For more than a week, the beer tastings, gastronomy, music, festival and folklore of this sister culture take place.
The origin of this celebration goes back to 1973, when the Centre of Initiatives invited a Bavarian orchestra to give a series of concerts in the city. At that time a group from the city of Leinach (in the district of Würzburg, Bavaria) was contacted. Since then this experience has been repeated, which gives emphasis to an interesting cultural exchange between the local population and the German colony located in the northern fringe of the Island of Tenerife.