The popular coastal town of Sitges, just south of Barcelona celebrates Corpus Christi by decorating its streets in beautiful carpets made entirely of different coloured petals. You can find everything from elephants to elaborate patterns and enormous flowers. The event is also a competition to see which street can create the best carpet.
Barcelona celebrates Corpus Christi in its own unique way with the Ou Com Balla? festival. Ou Com Balla roughly translates as ‘How does the egg dance?”. In the run up to the day, courtyards in important buildings across the city are decorated with flowers and an egg is placed in the central fountain. The egg seems to almost dance as the water constantly pushes it up and twists it around. This festival has been celebrated in Barcelona since the 15th century.
The small Catalan town of Berga holds the annual Patum de Berga during Corpus Christi. The origins of this festival can be traced all the way back to medieval times. Today it consists of various folkloric giants, monsters and mythical beasts, dancing and parading thorough the streets.
The Andalusian city of Granada celebrates Corpus Christi with its Feria Mayor – a grand fair where locals dress in traditional flamenco costumes, dance to traditional music, ride around on horseback and enjoy old fashioned fairground rides. Three days before Corpus Christi Sunday, there is a procession called La Tarasca, where a mannequin dressed in an elaborate costume rides around on a dragon. There are also religious processions such as Santísimo Sacramento on the Thursday and another on Corpus Christi Sunday.
In the village of Bejar in the province of Salamanca in Castilla y León, the festival is celebrated with a procession of ‘moss men’ through the streets. People dress up in huge big costumes made entirely from green moss, looking slightly like monsters from the swamp.
Valencia celebrates the festival with the organisation of the Cabalgata del Convite and the Parade of the Rocas. The first – the Cabalgata del Convite dates back to medieval times and consists of people parading through the streets wearing medieval costumes – there are the ‘Degolla’, a group representing supporters of King Herod from the Bible, as well as ‘momos’ – seven demons, which symbolise sin. People from the balconies above typically pour water upon the parade below. The second parade of the Rocas consists of horses pulling wagons up a hill, each one carrying a scene from the Bible.
The historic city of Toledo, just south Madrid, holds one of Spain’s oldest and most important Corpus Christi festivals. The day before the main celebration, old tapestries cover the cathedral and are draped over balconies along the route. On the parade day itself, the celebrated ‘Monstrance’, is carried through the streets – an amazing work of art dating from 1515, made of gold, silver and pearls and weighing up to 160 kilos. This is accompanied by groups of giants, religious brotherhoods and orders, wearing colourful regal costumes.
Elche de la Sierra
The Corpus Christi celebrations in Elche de la Sierra, located in the region of Castilla-La Mancha, were inspired by the floral Corpus Christ decorations used in Catalonia. Here they have taken Sitges street decorations to a whole new level, creating elaborate carpets (alfombras) out of different coloured sawdust. The carpets last for a few days until the the final procession goes right through the carpets, destroying them and sending coloured dust into the air.
Zahara de la Sierra
Zahara de la Sierra is located in the province of Cádiz in Andalusia, and like many of the towns and cities on our list, has a completely unique way of celebrating Corpus Christi. During the lead up to the day, the facades of houses and streets are covered in grass and branches, so that they become hidden and all you can see is a maze of plants and flowers. The Corpus Christi parades then take place through the streets. People also make whips called cachiporras out of twisted pieces of grass and carry them around the town.
Castrillo de Murcia
The small town of Castrillo de Murcia, located in the province of Burgos, in Castilla y Leon celebrates Corpus Christi with one of Spain’s most bizarre traditions – El Cochao Baby Jumping Festival. The tradition here dates all the way back to 1620, where a man dressed in red and yellow – representing the devil – jumps over a number of babies lying on mattresses on the streets. The ritual is supposed to protect the babies from evil spirits.