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