Celebrating San Antonio

I know it appears as if I’m developing a very strong addiction to chulapos and I really can’t argue that I’m not. Any traditional Madrid festival or celebration and I’m there. It’s as if I’m turning into one of those weirdo storm chasers, but chasing chulapos instead of tornados.

In fact, when I was stalking some Madrileños this afternoon at the San Antonio de la Florida festival, I think I recognized the same gang of chulapos that I saw in the San Lorenzo procession in Lavapies last year. And, although I might be completely crazy, I’m pretty sure that they recognized me because the head chulapo saw me and immediately bought me over to take their photo.

Yes, that’s right – I’m in with the chulapo crowd, people.

They’re all just too damn cute, aren’t they?

San Antonio, Madrid



Chulapas in Madrid, San Antonio de Padua
Why, yes, that’s correct – I DID manage to capture the elusive Spanish Finger Wagger on camera.


Anyway, the Fiesta de San Antonio is one of Madrid’s most beloved celebrations and will go on through the weekend.

A Bit of History and Tradition

San Antonio de PaduaAnthony of Padua was a Portuguese Catholic priest and a Franciscan friar. While he’s celebrated all over the world, in Spain, Brazil and Portugal he’s known as the marriage saint because of the legend of his ability to reconcile couples.

This leads us to the tradition today which takes place at one of my favorite churches of all time, La Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida. (If you haven’t been, it’s a wonderful place to visit. The Goya frescos are incredible. Also, no visit to this area would be complete without some chorizo and cider at Casa Mingo‘s tavern afterwards.)

Anyway, back to San Antonio. Considering he is the marriage saint, there’s a very interesting local tradition associated with his feast day on June 13th.

Single women use this day to test their chances of finding a boyfriend or husband in the upcoming year. Basically, once gathered in front of the church, ♫ all the single ladies ♫ line up to stick their palm in a fountain of stick pins. According to legend, if a pin sticks to your palm, you’ll be lucky in love.

On top of this lovey-dovey ritual, people line up around the block to receive saintly rolls from the back of the church. If I understand correctly, you don’t eat the bread, but rather save it for a year in hopes of being financially rewarded.


So, while I’m normally down with local traditions, I skipped the non-edible bread line and went to the first stall with smoke billowing out of it:
San Antonio Madrid
San Antonio Madrid

Okay, okay, you caught me. I say I’m searching for chulapos, but I’m really just there for the food.

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6 Responses to Celebrating San Antonio

  1. “Abuelos are my favorite thing” – Cat five minutes ago.
    “Abuelos dressed as chulapas are my favorite thing.” – Cat right now.

  2. Hamatha says:

    “Abuelos dressed as chulapas are my favorite thing… to stalk and hope that nobody calls the policia on me for being a creepy guiri stalker with a camera” – Hamatha at every Spanish festival.

  3. Amazing pictures! I’ve yet to attend any type of Chulapo event here. Must do asap…

    • Hamatha says:

      Thanks, lady! I’m in absolute love with Chulapos whenever I see them. I was so excited that he pulled me over to take photos of their group! So nice not to feel like a guiri stalker, you know? :) Next time there’s a chulapo event, we’ll have to meet up!

  4. Pingback: Celebrating Madrid's Beloved Virgin of Almudena » Pass the Ham

  5. Pingback: 22 (More) Reasons You Should Be in Spain Right Now - Gee, Cassandra

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