The Spanish word “fiesta” has different meanings: a party, a holiday, a festivity or celebration; i.e. a good excuse for people to get together to celebrate an event or simply have fun.
Fiestas are traditionally linked to saints’ days or church festivities, such as the two official local holidays in Gijón, San Pedro and Shrove Tuesday or “Martes de Carnaval” (Carnival Tuesday), the last opportunity to let your hair down before Lent!
They are usually accompanied by merrymaking, accompanied by food and drink and often also music and dancing. This is especially so when the fiesta is in honour of the patron saint of a village or town and takes the form of either a “romería” and/or a “fiesta de prau”. The former traditionally comprised a festive procession to present an offering at the church or shrine devoted to the patron saint, followed by the latter, literally a “party in a field” involving a picnic accompanied later on by music and dancing.
Things have got a bit more “sophisticated” in modern times, with “fiesta committees” organising the event and often include a funfair, marquees serving freshly cooked traditional fare and diverse brews to wash it all down, as well as professional “orchestras” or bands to get the partygoers dancing.
September is a great time to enjoy a variety of fiestas in Gijón and its surroundings, as many of these are held to celebrate the end of the harvest, with “sweet cider” and chestnuts galore to boot!
So don’t forget to pack your dancing shoes (or maybe boots for those fiestas in a field)!