Wednesday, 20 January 2010
San Antonio - 17th January
San Antonio (St Anthony) is the patron saint of animals, and on his day (or the nearest Sunday) you can take your animals to the chuch to be blessed. We still haven't been, but apparently people take everything, from horses to fish (still in their tanks I presume).
In Canals, on the way to Xativa, the night before San Antonio, they celebrate with a huge bonfire right outside the church, in the centre of the town. We have been before, but this year, as it fell on a Saturday night, it seemed a good idea for another visit.
In true Spanish style, we turned up just 15 minutes before it was due to start, and squeezed the car into a non-existent parking spot! The weather was mild and there was no wind - perfect for a bonfire.
The square was packed as we expected, but there was still room for a few hundred more (I don't think so). At 9pm. the church bells tolled and everyone cheered. Firecrackers around the bonfire went off, and those nearest used them to ignite newspaper and push the burning paper into the fire, to get it burning. After just a few minutes, thick white smoke billowed out from behind the greenery, rising into the air - and probably into the church too!
It took about 20 minutes for the whole thing to get really alight and for the oranges on top to catch alight (another round of cheers) and then 10 more minutes or so and it was pretty much over.
This year, due to the mild weather, the firemen didn't have to work too hard, to keep the buildings safe. In fact, I noticed that they were taking as many photos as everyone else! The houses nearest to the fire even left their protective aluminium shutters open until the fire really got going.
Great fun! Totally barmy!