La tomatina of Buñol


One of the routes that our international students enjoy most is the one that takes them to the Tomatina of Buñol, a town about 39 km away from Valencia that has become famous because someone described it as “the biggest food fight in the world”.

It all started by accident the last day of August, 1945, when a gang of youngsters that was attending the Giants and Big-Heads parade made one of the participants fall to the ground. This man, in a fit of anger, started to chase the kids, throwing at them everything he found on his way. Luck wanted him to come across a vegetable stall: the man picked up a bunch of tomatoes and started to throw them around, while the rest of the locals also took part in the fight.

It didn’t go any further from an anecdote, but in 1946 the same group of youngsters provoked a similar incident, but this time they took the tomatoes from their homes. The custom was repeated in 1947, 48 and 49… but in the fifties it was prohibited (the peculiarities of the times’ political regime…). But in 1957, after the comical burial of a giant tomato, the authorities allowed the battle to repeat itself on the same day as this story was originated: the last Wednesday of August.

It was a singular festivity, but very little known. It wasn’t until 1983 that the Tomatina became famous in Spain thanks to the TV show “Informe Semanal”, in which a small documentary on the town was shown. With time the celebration became more and more popular until in 2002 it was acknowledged as a Fiesta of International Tourist Interest.

It is now internationally renowned, and a proof of it is the number of students from our school in Valencia that ask us for daytrips to Buñol because they have seen the tomato fight on TV and know that this town is close by to Valencia. They also ask us if it’s not a shame that so much food is spilled and wasted. Our answer seems surprising to them: the tomatoes used in the fight are grown exclusively in Xilxes (Castellón) to be “sacrificed” in the Tomatina. We suppose that it is because of the fact that there is someone growing tomatoes as ammunition, but this fact fascinates them.

And talking about the international recognition of the Tomatina… We have learned that there are similar celebrations in Chile, Costa Rica, Milwaukee… even in India and China! Is this because one of our visitors exported it? Who knows!

(by Enforex, Valencia)

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