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La tomatina
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  There exist several interpretations on the origin of this popular festival. According to some historians, its origin goes back to a "practical joke" that some friends wanted to play on a man who was crossing the town square singing and playing a musical instrument but, apparently, he was doing it so badly that some of the people around decided to take some tomatoes from a fruit and vegetables stall and throw them at him. Everybody else joined in to end up in a tomato battle.
  However, the most reliable and historical version says that everything started in 1945. The town square (where the "tomatina" is traditionally held nowadays) was crowded with young people of that time to witness a "Gigantes y Cabezudos" parade (giant carnival figures with a grotesque head). Some of them decided to join the authority commitee and music band leading the parade and to do so they pushed the ones who were wearing the giant disguises.
Foto: M. A. de la Hoz
One of the participants fell down and when he stood up he started beating everyone around so everybody got caught up in a fight.
Fate or chance, there was a vegetable stall nearby with open crates showing the goods for sale. The young people involved in the fight took the tomatoes from the crates and started throwing them at each other until the police broke up "the battle", and those responsible for the riot paid for the damages.
  This riot was not forgotten and the next year on the same Wednesday of August the youths of the town met again at the square, but this time with their own tomatoes. This is how another battle started and once again was stopped by the local police. In fact, in the following years the authorities forbade the celebration of what was already popularly known as the "day of the tomatina". Nevertheless, this celebration has been held every year since them.
  In 1950 Buñol Town Hall allowed the festival. But the following year it did not. Some of the young participants were arrested and imprisoned. However, all Buñol residents claimed in their favour, which made the authorities set them free.
Due to the popular clamour, the festival was eventually allowed. Moreover, since then, the celebration had more and more participants every year and started to be better known outside Buñol. It was such fun that its participants not only threw tomatoes at each other, but also threw water, threw their friends into the square fountain and they even "attacked" the people who did not take part and were only looking, among them, relevant town personalities. Once again, this caused the banning of the festival, under the threat of serious sanctions and even imprisonment for those who took part in it.

 The tomato's funeral. The celebration had taken root so deeply that in 1957, as the "tomatina" couldn't be held, some youths suggested celebrating "the tomato's funeral"; a large popular display with comic parodies, and groups of musicians and singers, among which, the parade of some young people carrying a coffin with a big tomato inside, followed by a band playing funeral marches

From 1959, in response to the people's demands, theTown Hall allowed once again the celebration of the "tomatina" but under certain restrictions such as announcing the start and end of the festival with a banger and prohibiting to throw a single tomato before or after it.
From that moment on, the festival was institutionalized although, throughout the years, it suffered some changes, which have to do with the starting of the celebration. Some of these changes were climbing the greased pole, sack races, hot chocolate party, sport events of all kinds, fanfares... although what actually takes place nowadays is the traditional "soap pole"; a tall pole with soap and climbed so as to obtain the trophy at the top: a ham.

  Another important date in the history of la "tomatina" is 1975; from this date on, the festival is organized by "Los Clavarios de San Luis Bertrán" (San Luis Bertrán is the patron of the town of Buñol) who provide the tomatoes, which until then were brought by the locals from their homes. After 1980 it is the Town Hall who is in charge of organising and promoting the festival, so every year the quantity of tons of tomatoes rise as well as the number of participants from all over the world. Despite the great number of people, the festival does not involve danger and every year la "tomatina" is a success without any incidents.

We, who love this popular festival, should praise those men and women, who, in those times fought against the governmental incomprehension and whose persistence and lively attitude have allowed la "tomatina" to continue being a great and unforgettable festival until today.

  These small civic duty tips are necessary so that the festival will go on like every year, that is without any incidents:
· You mustn't bring in any bottles or any kind of objects which could provoke an accident.
· You mustn't tear t-shirts.
· Tomatoes must be crushed before being thrown so they can't hurt anybody.
· You must be careful with the lorries which carry the tomatoes.
· As soon as the second banger is fired, you must stop throwing tomatoes.
Foto: M. A. de la Hoz
  Try to enjoy yourself as much as possible but respect these rules and the people. In the "tomatina" festival there has never been a mishap and we would like it to stay that way so everybody around the world can have a good time.

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