La Tomatina is a food fight festival held on the last Wednesday of August each year in the town of Buñol near to Valencia, located in the East of Spain 30 km / 19 miles from the Mediterranean, in which participants throw tomatoes and get involved in this tomato fight purely for entertainment purposes. People make their way by the thousands from all corners of the world to fight in this ‘World’s Biggest Food Fight’ where more than 200KG of tomatoes are thrown in a minute! That is 120,000 KG of tomatoes in just one hour!
The streets of an eastern Spanish town were awash with red pulp on Wednesday as thousands of people pelted each other with tomatoes in the annual “Tomatina” battle that has become a major tourist attraction. At the annual fiesta in Buñol, trucks dumped 125 tons of ripe tomatoes for some 22,000 participants, many from abroad, to throw during the hour-long morning festivities.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
It started on the last Wednesday of August in 1945 (29th August 1945) when several young individuals attended the “Giants and Big-Head figures parade’’. A fight broke out in the crowd and ended up near a market stall of vegetables that has fallen victim to a furious crowd. People started to attack each other with tomatoes until local law enforcement ended the battle.
The following year the young people deliberately repeated the fight on the last Wednesday of August, only this time they brought their own tomatoes from home. They were again dispersed by the police. The food fight became an annual event. In 1950, the town allowed the tomato hurls to take place only to be stopped once more the year after but the festival gained popularity with more and more participants every year.
In 1957, demand for the popular festival led to its becoming official, with certain rules and restrictions. These rules have gone through many modifications over the years.
Another important landmark in the history of this festival is the year 1975. From this year on wards, the patron of the town of Buñol organized the whole festival and brought in the tomatoes, which had previously been brought by the local people. Soon after this, in 1980, the town council took over responsibility for organizing the festival.
Since then, the number of participants has grew substantially and rapidly as well as the buzz around the La Tomatina Festival. In 2013, town officials introduced an entry fee and limited the number of participants, since concerns were raised over safety issues. Prior to 2013 anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 people crammed into this huge tomato fight, greatly expanding Buñol’s normal 9,000 person population.
Since 2013 official ticketing has been in place limiting the number of participants to just 20,000 lucky people. Technically the festival does not begin until one brave soul has climbed to the top of a two-story high, greased-up wooden pole and reached the coveted ham at the top and if you think that is easy to do, think again!
The fight lasts for an hour, after which the whole town square is covered with tomato paste. Fire trucks hose down the streets and participants use hoses that locals provide to wash off and clean up.
LA TOMATINA FIGHT RULES
Safety instructions are provided by the city council:
THROWING TOMATOES AROUND THE WORLD
The Tomato-throwing Tradition Has Spread around the World and La Tomatina has led to other similar celebrations across the globe!
In Colombia, the town of Sutamarchán has held a tomato fight since 2004 in June. In the United States, Twin Lakes, Colorado, started the “Colorado-Texas Tomato War” in 1982, which pits residents from Texas and Colorado against each other in a food fight each September.
There are also annual La Tomatina-inspired events each year in Costa Rica and Chile.
OTHER FINE SPANISH TRADITION
The La Tomatina is only one out of fine Spanish traditions, for its prime example; the Lotteria de
Each Year, on December 22nd, a Mega Raffle is held by the official Spanish lottery, which offers over 2 Billion Euros in cash! With winning odds beginning at 1:7, players have excellent odds of taking home a prize in the world’s biggest lottery! The El Gordo is the biggest lottery in the world. The name El Gordo means “The Big One.”
At the time of the raffle draw two spherical drums are used to pull the winning raffle numbers. The larger drum contains thousands of small balls made of wood with the five-digit codes imprinted. Spanish Christmas Lottery tickets on sale are offered up to half a year before the draw itself!
So whether you are into flying tomatoes or simply an avid lottery fan- Spain offers best of both worlds and continues in surprising in both Jackpots and traditions and one thing for sure- you are always welcome to join in!