La Tomatina (Spain)
La Tomatina is an annual festival held in the Valencian town of Bunol, Spain where participants and spectators throw tomatoes at each other purely for entertainment. Huh? It is held on the last Wednesday in August. (In 2018, it will be held on August 29; August 28 in 2019.) Okay, let me explain what this weirdness is all about…
It all started on Wednesday, August 29, 1945, some young people were in the town square to attend the Giants and Big-Heads figures parade. (What? I know. Let’s move on.) These young people wanted to get involved in the parade and in their exuberance one figure fell off. In his rage, he grabbed some fresh fruit from a nearby market stall and soon everyone was pelting each other with vegetables. Local forces quickly stepped in. The next year, the young people brought their own tomatoes. Local police quickly stepped in again and for the next few years. La Tomatina was banned in the early 50s quite easily as participants were arrested. But it was soon overturned when support for the festival was established. Until 1957 that is. In protest, the tomato burial was held instead. Residents carried a coffin with a huge tomato inside to the sound of the funeral march. But La Tomatina had taken root and it became a yearly tradition. It grows bigger every year.
La Tomatina usually lasts for hours and the town square is literally covered in tomato debris. Fire trucks come in to hose down the streets. Participants either hose themselves off by hoses provided by locals or go to the Los Penones pool to wash off. The main benefit of the festival? The citric acid in the tomatoes leaves all the washed surfaces super clean. In 2013, the festival restricted participants to paid ticket holders. A ballpark figure? In 2015 it was estimated La Tomatina used 145,000 kg of tomatoes. Oh and by the way the tomatoes being thrown are already squashed to have less impact.