Every year during the last week in August and the first week in September, the sleepy little pueblo of Alcora becomes a booming, dare I say "happenin" place. "Why?" you ask. It's the town fiestas (formally known as the "Festes del Crist" or the "Party of the Christ," and Alcorinos plan their lives and vacations around these two weeks of the year. Even people from the surrounding towns and villages come to participate in the grand festivities.
As a newcomer to Alcora, I found it interesting how much the native Alcorinos take pride in their fiestas. Even the hardware shop owner had to make sure that I knew about it and had a schedule for all of the main events. Unfortunately, we had to leave about midway through the fiestas because of a speaking engagement in Madrid, but we were still able to get out and enjoy a bit of the local culture. We made sure to see two key events, one being the toros: not to worry, the bulls weren't killed, just taunted and teased mostly. The other event we went out to see was the procession of "The Virgen" and "The Cristo," which started down in the center of town and ended in the chapel just above the town...a pretty good hike uphill if you're the one carrying the statues. You can see a few more photos by CLICKING HERE.
One word of reflection. Rachel and I were commenting on how these town fiestas seem to be a contradiction in terms. The fiestas, as we mentioned above, are officially in honor of Christ. But when we went to see the bulls, there was a live intermission show with an old obese Santa Claus looking fella dancing to music on top of a car wearing nothing but a red thong. A friend of ours from here told us that normally it's two well-endowed topless ladies, but this was a demonstration in mockery of the current economic crisis (apparently the ladies cost more). The very next day, after a lot of people had spent the night getting drunk, was the procession in honor of the Santísimo Cristo (the Most Holy Christ) in which a good number of the same people (quite a crowd) turned out to throw flowers to, light candles to and show their "devotion" to Christ (or the statue of the crucified Christ, I'm still not sure). I don't have a strict party-pooper version of Jesus or Christianity (see John 2), but let me pose a question that reveals why we're in Alcora: Do they really understand who this Christ is and what it means to honor Him?