This year, I had a birthday I will never forget. Not only did my birthday fall on a Friday, but it also happened to be the same day as La Romeria, the biggest celebration in my town.
La Romeria means pilgrimage. It’s a Catholic celebration that consists of a trip (in cars, floats, horseback, or on foot) that ends at a sanctuary or, in our case, a church. It’s an all day celebration that goes on well into the night.
Here’s an interesting fact – the word “Romería” comes from “romero,” meaning those traveling towards Rome.
I went into the holiday having no idea what I was doing. What I experienced first was a street filled with people in floats, on horseback, and many on foot (like me).
Everyone was dressed up. The women wore beautiful Flamenco dresses with big hoop earrings and flowers in their hair. The men wore suits and ties, or riding gear if they were on horseback.
We started the journey around 2 pm, after a mass took place, and began to walk in the scorching sun. We walked behind a sculpture of the Virgin Mary (hence the Catholic celebration).
There was a man walking with us playing guitar, and we sang traditional Sevillana songs the whole way. Every fifteen minutes or so, we would stop for a “dance break.” The women would dance the Sevillana – a dance that’s broken down into four parts and is pretty challenging. In the end I only really succeeded in learning the first part, but oh well!
After about 1 ½ hours, we stopped in a very shady area to eat lunch. This was where I celebrated my 17th birthday party with everyone, including all the kids from our float and their families, my sisters and all of my friends. We celebrated, danced and sang. It was so fun, and a birthday I will definitely never forget.
After all this fun, we actually had another 1 ½ hours to walk until we reached our final destination!
We arrived around 8 pm in a forested area, and lots of people started setting up to sleepover for the night. From then on it was just a typical Spanish fiesta :). Lots of eating, drinking, partying, dancing and singing until late in the night.
It was great just being with friends and enjoying a typical tradition that only happens once a year. It was definitely a birthday I will NEVER forget.
*This post was adapted from the post “La Romeria and My Birthday” on the blog Vida en España.