Jarramplas: the Spanish festival where people throw turnips

A shower of turnips, people running, others singing, excitement and adrenaline come together in the streets of the town, we are in Piornal, a Spanish municipality in Extremadura. Here every year, precisely on January 19 and 20, on the occasion of San Sebastián, one of the most heartfelt and most important holidays of the area is celebrated, the famous Jarramplas. 

The origins of this festival are rather uncertain, most of the inhabitants of Piornal say that Jarramplas represents a cattle thief who in the past, once discovered by the villagers, was hunted and hit with vegetables. Others claim that this ancestral festival has mythological origins, whereas others attribute it to a Native American tradition. Whatever its origin, one thing is certain, the inhabitants of Piornal await anxiously this holiday all year long. 

Jarramplas is the main character of the party, a boy from Piornal dresses up as a sort of minotaur with a very heavy “armour” covered with coloured shreds and wears a giant conical mask, with two large horns and a tuft of horsehair. This guy wanders confidently and casually through the streets of the town playing his little “tamboril” (drum) and in the meantime he is hit by the inhabitants ready to throw hundreds and hundreds of turnips. Jarramplas raises his hands up to stop the battle, so his butlers, always by his side, help him adjust his mask, drink, wipe away the sweat, in short, they faithfully assist him. Being able to be Jarramplas is a source of pride, every boy would like to have this chance, and the waiting list for the next twenty years is the proof. During the evening of January 19 the inhabitants gather in the square in front of the church waiting for the twelve rings, when Jarramplas begins to play his drum. 

This holiday has now become a festival of national tourist interest and calls to mind the famous “Tomatina de Buñol”, the tomatoes battle that is celebrated in Spain, and the famous oranges battle of Ivrea city in the province of Turin. To get into the spirit of the party and to understand its most important aspects, it is interesting and curious to visit the “Museo de Jarramplas” which houses the objects used during the celebration, such as armour, masks, clothing and drums. Another much loved object is the life-size model of Jarramplas, which faithfully reproduces the real one. Visitors also have the opportunity to experience first-hand the emotion that Jarramplas feels during the fight, the museum offers a virtual reality mask that makes people live the sensations, the blows, the fatigue and what Jarramplas feels during the battle. 

The more Jarramplas is able to withstand the blows, the more the party goes on and the turnip throwers cheer the character by rewarding his courage. The celebrations close on the afternoon of January 20 when Jarramplas heads towards the house of the future butler, making the appointment for the following year’s party. 

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