Every year Spanish universities welcome new students with the very messy initiation. The students of the University of Granada welcome first-year students with the massive food fight show. This tradition is called San Lucas. Even though it is officially prohibited by police and the city officials the students keep a fine tradition going.
The crowd is chanting: «uno, dos, tres, cuatro queremos de novato» (one, two, three, for we want the blood of the newbies) new students are bombarded with food. In this fight, flour and eggs are the principal ammunition. But do not forget the spices: every year future lawyers and doctors «curry up» the streets of Granada and each other from head to toe; and the smell of curry is there to stay for days, if not weeks. This festival is banned from inside the universities, so students take the fight to the streets: fight starts in the Plaza de San Lazaro and then makes its way up to University Square. Just like any other student’s festival this one ends in an outdoor drinking session.
Dress up is just as important. Students wear various costumes: comic book heroes, superheroes and Disney characters.
There are certain unwritten rules: students in their final years are sort of hazing. They take privileged positions on the high ground attacking the newbies, so they have less chance of being attacked. The celebration is now voluntary though even few years back students were removed from class to participate in San Lucas.
There’s another Spanish ritual that close to San Lucas Festival, called La Tomatina Festival, which includes the La Tomatina Fight is one of the most attended parties in Spain.
La Tomatina Fight, the important day of the week long La Tomatina Festival held in the city of Bunol every year on the last Wednesday of August. The festival features music, parades, dancing and fireworks and even paella cooking contest.
La Tomatina fight is the world’s largest food fight show, where a vast of overripened tomatoes are thrown in the streets. This event has become of the highlights on Spain’s summer festivals.
On the last Wednesday of August 20,000 people (in 2013 town officials introduces an entry fee and limited the number of tickets, citing concerns over safety) gather on Plaza del Pueblo, the center of the town. The trucks with tomatoes come from Etremadura. Firing of water cannons is the signal for the fight to begin.
La Tomatina has been a strong tradition in Bunol since 29th of August in 1945, but no one is completely certain how this event originated. One popular theory is that desperate townspeople attacked city mayor with tomatoes during town celebration.
However the tradition originated, it was enjoyed so much, that it was repeated the next year, and the year after that. Over the years, police and local leaders attempted to have the whole event canceled due to the waste of food and the mess it made.
During the peak of the dictatorship of Francis Franco in the sixties, La Tomatina was banned as it had no religious significances but after his death in 1975 patron of the town San Luis Bertran began organizing the event, bringing in the tomatoes, which had brought up by the local people.
During La Tomatina Fight you have to follow few simple rules:
– Do not bring hard objects or glass bottles. They may injure other participants.
– Do not rip other people’s clothes.
– Squash tomatoes before throwing so that they don’t hurt anybody. As soon as you hear the second shot, stop throwing tomatoes. The fight takes place between 11 a.m and 1 p.m. After it ends, no more tomatoes can be thrown.
And keep our bits of advice in mind:
– Wear closed shoes and old clothes, that you do not mind throwing away afterward.
– Wear goggles and ensure that you have something clean to wipe your eyes with at all times.
La Tomatina Fight has inspired similar celebrations all over the world: USA, China, Columbia.
Also, you can read more about La Tomatina Festival on Wikipedia page.