San Antón, Patron Saint of Peloche
The festivity of San Antón, patron saint of Peloche, is celebrated on the 17th of January. The exact origins of the traditional dance of San Antón are unknown, but it is believed to date back to the 15th century. This dance honoring San Antón sees the dancers executing the various letters written on the book that the saint holds in his hand.
Several months prior, the members of the different “murgas” (bands of street musicians) and “estudiantinas” (student music groups), start preparing their lyrics, music, and costumes, related to the events that have happened in the town throughout the previous year. The carnival festivities open with a costume parade organized by the local school. The traditional “burial of the sardine” mark their end.
Day of the Lord
On Corpus Christi, the streets and squares are decorated with sedges, thyme, rosemary, marjoram and rose petals to greet the procession. Those making promises or “mandas” also put up their own altars with help from their neighbors. The children that have taken their First Communion that year join the procession, throwing rose petals. Once the procession is over, the sedges decorating the streets are woven to make “cachiporras”, toy whips for children to play with.
Easter begins with Palm Sunday and the blessing of the olive branches and palm leaves. Mass is held on the Maundy Thursday in remembrance of the Last Supper. In this celebration, the feet of the Nazarenes are washed as Jesus did with his disciples. At dusk, the procession emerges lead by the Jesus of Nazarene brotherhood, which was founded before 1588.
On the morning of Good Friday, the Via Crucis is enacted while the mass of the Descent from the Cross takes place in the evening. When night falls, the brotherhood of the Saintly Crucified Christ leads a procession that was first established circa 1943-1944.
On Saturday night the Easter Vigil is held. Following that, the Procession of the Resurrected sees the men of the town carry the image of the Resurrected Chris while the women carry that of the Sorrowful. Following different paths, both statues meet at the square, greeted by the applause and cheers of the fervent locals and by the release of doves and swallows.
The Pilgrimage of The Virgen Del Espino
On the first Sunday of May, the Peloche region hosts the pilgrimage of the Virgen del Espino, which takes its name from the Fuente del Espino fountain, located on the mountainside along the banks of the Guadiana River where the shrine was built.
One of the typical foods prepared on this day are the aniseed-sprinkled bread rolls featuring the image of the Patron on top.
The most popular festivity in Herrera is celebrated around the 15th of August, or the closest weekend to that date, when the Day of the Migrant is celebrated.
The day begins with a presentation speech. Throughout the weekend there are several activities going on, including the “Gigantes y Cabezudos” (giants and big-heads) parade and contests such as the “rope throw”, and for the best ajoblanco (a cold soup made with almonds and garlic) and Pitarra wine. Bullfighting also plays a prominent role in the festivities, with renowned bullfighters headlining the events.
Celebrated a week before the town’s public holiday, it offers a host of activities for all ages: exhibitions, workshops for children or sport tournaments like five-a-side football, tennis, ping-pong, and skeet shooting. The program is rounded out by the Family Theater Festival and several music performances.
The patron festivity of Herrera del Duque. It is celebrated on the 8th of September, when the Virgin is seen off in the “Pilarito” fountain and returns to her shrine, where the Sacred mass, followed by a procession and the auction of traditional sweets and “mangas”, takes place. Throughout the day, souvenirs of the Virgin are sold in a stall while the villagers celebrate the pilgrimage with drinking and dancing.
The Chaquetía and the Castañada (chestnut festival)
This public holiday is celebrated on the 1st of November. The popular tradition in Peloche is to go to the countryside on an outing with a picnic and a bag of chestnuts, to be eaten raw or roasted. In Herrera del Duque this celebration is known as the “chaquetía”. Groups of friends go to the countryside to eat walnuts, chestnuts, quinces, and pomegranates.
The streets are all lit up during the holidays. On Christmas Eve, the villagers sing Christmas carols in the streets to the tune of tambourines, mortars and aniseed liquor bottles used as instruments, while they visit the houses asking for the “aguinaldo” (a Christmas money gift). On Three Kings Day, a parade traverses the streets of Herrera and Peloche. Following the procession, the three wisemen visit the children’s houses to deliver presents.