The messiest festival in the world had some seriously shady beginnings.
As the most popular story goes – back in 1945, during another Spanish festivity in Buñol, a street fight broke out when a participant started to pelt everyone with vegetables from a market stall nearby. This led to a whole bunch of people doing the same, a furious vegetable battle ensued, if you will. The following year, the same young people picked a quarrel on purpose and brought their own tomatoes.
However some people have called this story a mere myth, or a twisting of the truth as some believe it was during a religious procession/festival that the fight broke out, which lead to long standing rivalries between village folk. Another ambiguous twist to this story, points at the unrest of the then political scene of Spain. Francisco Franco’s reign right after the civil war proved be less-than-satisfactory for the common folk.
“This village was against Franco,” said Miguel Sierra Galaraza, a historian from Bunol. “Throwing tomatoes at the priest and mayor was a way to protest against authority.”
Although the police broke up the early tradition in the following years, with it being banned in the early 50’s, the vibe and popularity of the food fight lived on. By the town’s people’s wishes the tradition of La Tomatina was brought back, this time more regulated.
One thing must be remembered, the festival only can sustain itself because of the surplus crop the town of Buñol has access to, WHICH IT DOES NOT PRODUCE BUT IMPORTS. Yup, most people believe Buñol grows the crop it wastes every year, when actually the tomatoes come from neighbourhood provinces especially Extremadura, that provides are low- quality, inferior in taste and cheap tomatoes. So for a fight that lasts for just an hour, around 150,000 tomatoes meet their fate.
To read more about some equally crazy and messy festivals, click here. Once again The Sherp’s got you covered.