How did a Scotsman get to carry San Blas?

Statue of San Blas

Fiestas are a very important part of Spanish life, and alway include lots of music and wine, plus a few loud fireworks, as well as the obligatory pasacalles carrying a statue of the saint they are honouring around the streets in their barrio.

The most important fiestas in Jumilla are Semana Santa and the August Feria, however there are so many local fiestas that life here is one long party.  One advantage of living in a Spanish town is you get to know the locals and more importantly they get to know you, telling you when and where the next fiesta is being held.  Fiestas usually include processions with a religious statue and bands playing, plus plenty to eat and drink. 

We were renting a flat in the middle of town when we first moved to Jumilla and being a keen (if not talented) photographer, whenever I heard a band playing or fireworks exploding, I would drag John out of the house so that I could take some pictures.  That was how we discovered our local Asociación de Vecinos: we were peering through the window, looking at a statue that I had photographed earlier, when they spotted us and invited us inside.  Our British embarrassment at being caught spying on them soon disappeared after their friendly welcome and invitation to come along for an aperative and wine.  Their interpretation of the phrase “an aperative and wine”, by the way, is lots of food and lots of drink over at least two hours!

Enjoying the Fiestas en Honor de San Blas

We seem to have been adopted by this Asociación as, even though we have now moved into our new flat in a different barrio, we are still invited to come along and participate in their fiestas, especially San Blas.

During the procession of San Blas, in our first year living in Jumilla, we stopped twice for refreshments: once in somebody’s garage (where the band started playing and people began to dance) and once in a street where a table was set up outside.  During the second break local police halted traffic so that fireworks could be set off in the middle of the road!  Fireworks are an essential part of most Spanish celebrations, though strangely enough we have never seen any for sale in the local shops.

Local police stop the traffic while fireworks are being lit in the street

This year John´s niece Fiona was staying with us during San Blas, so we dragged her along to participate.  I have to say that she wasn´t exactly protesting, especially when she was offered lots of food and wine!  What particularly intrigued Fiona was when she spotted the statue of San Blas in the Camarera´s front room, until we explained that every year they hold a prize draw for the honour of being Camarera the following year and welcoming San Blas into their house.

San Blas in the Camarera´s front room

So, back to my question: how did a Scotsman get to carry the statue of San Blas, which is in itself a great honour?  I think it is a measure of how welcoming Spanish people are towards foreigners who choose to live in their area.  They could see how we were enjoying ourselves, and how willing we were to be part of their community, so they asked John if he would like to help carry their statue.  They soon realised that, at over 6 feet tall, John was a bit taller than the average Spaniard, however they matched him with our friend Angel, who is almost the same height, so John didn´t have to stoop too much. 

John was also invited to light a few fireworks, but that is another story…

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