Those pilgrims walking Via de la Plata Camino route can find out a new world of magic and color on the Camino de Santiago. It is Galician Carnival, also known as Antroido or Entroido. Galician Carnival is one of the most popular and best loved festivals in Galicia. Carnival is a period of time to have a bit of irreverent fun. It is originally linked to celebrations welcoming the Spring. Although Carnival is widely celebrated in practically all villages, towns and cities across Galicia, some of the most amazing and oldest Carnival festivals take place in the province of Ourense.
Some of these Carnival festivals are classified as “National Tourist Interest” but three of them are known as the “Magic Triangle”, they are on the Via de la Plata Camino route and are conformed by Xinzo the Limia, Verín and Laza. Its origins can be found in the Celtic world and still keeps many of its oldest traditions. Its rhythm is marked by the sound of blows emanating from dried cow bladders, swollen with air and hit to make noise. It is also marked by the sound of the cowbells carried in the costumes of some of the most famous characters. However, each village or town has got its own costumes and masks, the most famous are “peliqueiros” at Laza, “cigarróns” at Verín and “pantallas” at Xinzo.
Despite the festive atmosphere and the apparent chaos, carnival is incredibly important for those born in these places in the province of Ourense. For them, wearing the costumes of pantallas, peliqueiros or cigarróns is a tradition; something that is in their blood and is transmitted from generation to generation, taught in families and is inherited. The masks, made in carved wood and hand painted in many cases, are usually over a century old and retain enormous value.
It is in the famous Magic Triangle formed by Laza, Verin and Xinzo de Limia where the Entroido, more than a celebration, is a feeling that unites thousands of people willing to enjoy a unique show, the oldest carnivals in Spain.
The traditional carnival costumes
Xinzo de Limia holds the longest carnival, with festivities beginning three weeks before Carnival Sunday and lasting until the Piñata Sunday that marks its end. Here the pantallas are characters that represent the religious, judicial and social powers and are responsible for ensuring that no one is allowed to stroll undisguised. Their law is absolute; anyone who dares to walk without costume is marched to the nearest pub and ordered to buy wine for all the pantallas. In this way, the sound of their dried bladders becomes a warning for attendees not wearing a costume, who flee to avoid being punished.
In another corner of the triangle is Verin, where the whips of their cigarróns greet or punish anyone who gets in his way. The costumes of these characters with their arched eyebrows and rosy cheeks weighs up to 15 kilos, due to the cowbells being carried around their waists. The sound of these bells and the cynical and toothed smile of their mask dominate the Entroido of the town.
The last point of the Magic Triangle is in Laza, where is located one of the most ancient Entroido of Galicia. Its peliqueiros are the protagonists. Their costumes are very similar to the cigarróns, and they are in charge of leading the party from its appearance after the mass of Entroido Sunday.
This celebration has preserved better than any other party ancestral rites as ‘a saída da morena’, represented by a villager who wears a bull’s head made from wood and a blanket. He spends his time lifting the skirts of women while his entourage throws raging ants to the crowds.
What to eat in Ourense when you’re on the Entroido ?
It is impossible to imagine the Entroido without thinking of its gastronomic side.. The typical food of entroido in the inland areas is blunt: androlla, botelo, stew or broth . For dessert, the “pancakes” and “orellas” are indispensable. And to drink, nothing better than coffee liquor that can be found in any café or restaurant.
Dates of Carnival festival this year 2016
If you are walking the Via de la Plata Camino or you are in Galicia, it is worth enjoying Entroido. Here you are a list with the dates and festivals in many Galician towns and villages.
Buen Camino, amigos!