La Tomatina Festival
Spain's La Tomatina is one of the hottest festivals the world has to offer. Not only does it feature ham and greased poles, it also finishes off with a city-wide tomato fight. We've got the 411 on the messiest holiday in the world.
Where Is It?
La Tomatina is celebrated on the last Wednesday in August in the small town of Bunol in eastern Spain. The festival began way back in 1944 but there is no known religious or political basis for it. Some people guess it began as a food fight among children or that local townspeople chucked tomatoes to show their dislike of a local politician. Whatever the case, the event caught on and has happened every year until the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco banned the festival for "having no religious significance." However, the town resumed the event after Franco died in the '70s.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
A week-long festival leads up to the big tomato fight, which includes parades, fireworks and even a paella cooking contest. On the big day, shopkeepers board up their storefronts to protect them from the impending mess and a ham is placed at the top of a tall, greased pole which must be retrieved before the tomato tossing can begin. At 11AM sharp, participants struggle to climb to the top of the pole to bring down the ham - then it's every man for himself as 240,000 pounds (108,900 kg) of tomatoes are pelted at everything that moves.
Did U Know?
- La Tomatina participants are recommended to wear goggles to protect their eyes from the acid in the tomatoes.
- La Tomatina safety regulations require that tomatoes are squished before being thrown so they don't hurt when they impact.
- A cannon is fired to signal the beginning and end of the tomato-throwing.
- Firefighters use water canons to wash down the streets after the festival.
- Men and women often separate into warring factions during the tomato throwing. What a messy battle of the sexes!