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La Tomatina
La Tomatina is a food fight festival held on the last Wednesday of August each year in the town of Buñolmarker in the Valenciamarker region of Spainmarker. Tens of thousands of participants come from all over the world to fight in a brutal battle where more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets.

The week-long festival features music, parades, dancing, and fireworks. On the night before the tomato fight, participants of the festival compete in a paella cooking contest. It is tradition for the women to wear all white and the men to wear no shirts. This festival started in a casual way in 1945, but wasn't officially recognized until 1952.

Approximately 20,000–50,000 tourists come to the tomato fight, multiplying by several times Buñol's normal population of slightly over 9,000. There is limited accommodation for people who come to La Tomatina, and thus many participants stay in Valencia and travel by bus or train to Buñol, about 38 km outside the city. In preparation for the dirty mess that will ensue, shopkeepers use huge plastic covers on their storefronts in order to protect them. They also use about 150,000 tomatoes, just about 90,000 pounds.

Description

At around 10 a.m., the first event of the Tomatina begins. The first feat is for the crowd to figure out how to get people to climb up a greased pole with a ham at the top. While this is happening, the group works up a frenzy singing and dancing while being showered from hoses. Once someone is able to release the ham from the pole, several trucks haul the bounty of tomatoes into the center of the town, Plaza del Pueblo. The tomatoes come from Extremaduramarker, where they are less expensive and are used only for the festival as they taste too poor for general consumption. The signal for the beginning of the fight is firing of water cannons, and the chaos begins. Those who partake in this event are strongly encouraged to wear protective safety goggles and gloves. In addition, they must squish the tomatoes before throwing for safety precautions. After exactly one hour, the fighting ends when the water cannons are fired once more to signal the end. At this point, no more tomatoes can be thrown. The cleaning process involves the use of fire truck to spray down the streets, with water provided from a Roman aqueduct.

History

The festival is in honor of the town's patron saints, St. Louis Bertrand (San Luis Bertràn) and the Mare de Déu dels Desemparats (Mother of God of the Defenseless), a title of the Virgin Mary.

The tomato fight has been a strong tradition in Buñol since 1944 or 1945. No one is completely certain how this event originated. Possible theories on how the Tomatina began include a local food fight among friends, a juvenile class war, a volley of tomatoes from bystanders at a carnival parade, a practical joke on a bad musician, and the chaotic aftermath of an accidental lorry spillage. One of the most popular theories is that disgruntled townspeople attacked city councilmen with tomatoes during a town celebration. Whatever happened to begin the tradition, it was enjoyed so much that it was repeated the next year, and the year after that, and so on. The holiday was banned during the Spanish State period undermarker Francisco Franco for having no religious significance, but returned in the 1970s after his demise.[12656]

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