Santiago (and Spain) will celebrate the Carnival soon. This year the festival is from the 4th of March. Like everywhere else in the world, Carnival in Spain marks the start of Lent, 40 days before Easter or ‘Semana Santa’ (in Spanish). If you are walking the Camino de Santiago during these days, you will be able to watch many interesting and funny events.
Carnival in Galicia is one of the most popular in Spain. In this region Carnival is called Antroido or Entroido, which refers to the fact that it is immediately followed by Lent. Before the arrival of this time of abstinence, Santiago lives these days of pagan festivities among parades, fancy dress, satirical humour and a slight touch of transgression.
Although some of the celebrations related to this event have almost disappeared from urban memory, the Carnival is still alive in Santiago thanks to the enthusiasm of residents, schools and street bands, who readily participate in parades on two key dates: Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.
Holiday (Shrove Tuesday)
The Carnival Festival continues. During the week, in Galicia it is traditional to sample typical products in large quantities, in preparation for the religious fasting that follows the Carnival Festival. The typical dish of these days is ‘cocido’ or stew, made up of pork (shoulder, chorizos or ‘cacheira,’ the pig’s head), accompanied by boiled potatoes and ‘grelos’ (turnip leaves). Typical desserts include ‘filloas’ (crepes made with wheat flour and lard) and ‘orellas’ (fried ‘ears’).
Traditional Mardi Gras Parade
The Carnival Festival combines fancy dress, parades and street parties. In Santiago all of this takes place in the Mardis Gras Parade, made up of floats and groups of residents and friends that go around the city. There are prizes for the most original costumes, which are awarded in Praza Roxa, where the parade ends after going around the city’s main streets.
Holiday (Ash Wednesday)
The Carnival Festival comes to an end and the fasting days of Lent begin. In Compostela a satirical procession is held that ends with the burning of ‘Meco’ (a doll representing the Carnival). This Compostela symbol varies each year in order to represent a topical theme full of ironic connotations.
If you are walking the French way between the end of February and the beginning of March you will be able to watch Carnival events in any city, town or village along the Camino. Just you need to improvise a custome and have fun! Buen camino!