Bunol, Spain : If its the last Wednesday of August, then its time to paint it red ! Every year, an hour of time is dedicated to pelt each other with tomatoes and the place to be is in the town of Bunol, near Valencia in eastern Spain. Thousands of people gather from all corners of the world to join the world’s biggest food fight festival – La Tomatina – a festival where more than one hundred metric tonnes of overripe tomatoes are thrown on the streets and at each other.
2015 makes it all the more special because it happens to be the 70th anniversary of La Tomatina festival. Throw tomatoes, get messy and get cleaned up in the small town Bunol river – that’s the tag line of this fun and frolic annual gathering.
Different stories do the rounds regarding origin of this festival. One says – like many Spanish festivals, the celebration was originally a religious one to honor Bunol’s patron saint, San Luis Bertran. Another story says – it was prompted by village rivalries. Some say it was a joke. Few others opine that this tomato-throwing episode stemmed from unhappiness with Francisco Franco’s reign following Spain’s civil war.
Yet another similar story goes that the festival first began in 1945, when a man was pushed aside a float during the annual parade taking place in Bunol. In a fit of rage, he picked up tomatoes from a nearby vegetable stall and began throwing them at everyone in sight. Some enthusiastics found a thrill element in his rage, caught on with his act, imitated him and repeated the act the following year, and although authorities tried to clamp down on the tomato-throwing initially, it became an official festival in 1957.
Over the years, La Tomatina has joined Spain’s pantheon of festivals, and adorns the last Wednesday of eighth month of calendar year after year.