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Tomato Fight: Spain’s La Tomatina Festival

During La Tomatina, Spain’s citizens throw tomatoes at each other. This Tomato Fight in Spain takes place every year, and has a rather fascinating origin story. In this article, you’ll learn several La Tomatina facts to increase your cultural knowledge. And maybe you can convince your country to start a tomato-throwing festival… ;)

At SpanishPod101.com, we hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative. So let’s get started!

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1. What is La Tomatina?

As for the La Tomatina history, the Tomatina Festival began in 1945, when a parade for another festivity called the “Feast of Giants and Big-Heads,” refused to allow certain young people to take part in it. This led to a fight between the young people and the parade directors. At some point, one of the young people fell down, and the others took advantage of a vegetable stand nearby; they all began hurling tomatoes at each other, until police finally came to end the dispute. Those involved had to pay for the damage.

Today, this momentous and rather ridiculous event is commemorated as the La Tomatina Festival.

2. When is La Tomatina Festival?

Big Tomato

The date of La Tomatina varies each year, as it takes place on the last Wednesday in August. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2019: August 28
  • 2020: August 26
  • 2021: August 25
  • 2022: August 31
  • 2023: August 30
  • 2024: August 28
  • 2025: August 27
  • 2026: August 26
  • 2027: August 25
  • 2028: August 30

3. La Tomatina Traditions

People Throwing Tomatoes at Each Other

The celebration begins the night before. Paellas are prepared in the square and everybody drinks wine. Early the next morning, all retailers with stores in the Plaza are busy protecting their doors and windows.

At ten o’clock in the morning, the “soap stick” occurs. It involves climbing a slippery pole, which has been greased, to reach a ham that’s been put up on top. The start signal is given when someone takes down one of the hams. At this time, trucks fill the plaza with tomatoes. From here, the fight ends at a specified time.

Certain rules have been established by the Town Hall to prevent any altercations. Most importantly, only tomatoes can be thrown. Another rule is that you cannot rip the shirts off of the other participants. They also ask that tomatoes be crushed, so that they don’t cause any damage when thrown. It’s also important to be careful and keep away from the trucks carrying tomatoes toward the square.

One should bear in mind that when the second shot is heard, everyone should stop throwing tomatoes. Also, for safety reasons, it’s recommended to wear glasses and gloves.

4. The Tomatoes

Do you know where the tomatoes that are used in La Tomatina come from?

The tomatoes come from Xilxes Castellón. These cost far less money and are grown in fact specifically for these celebrations, since they are not good enough to eat.

5. Useful Vocabulary for La Tomatina

Tomatina

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Tomatina in Spain!

  • Camión — “Truck”
  • Rojo — “Red”
  • Tomate — “Tomato”
  • Gigante — “Giant”
  • Gente — “People”
  • La tomatina — “Tomatina”
  • Lucha de tomate — “Tomato fight”
  • Palo jabón — “Greasy pole”
  • Buñol — “Buñol”
  • Cabezudo — “Big head puppet”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Tomatina vocabulary list!

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What do you think of La Tomatina? A unique and wildly entertaining holiday, no? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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