February is Carnival time in Galicia!. It is one of the most awaited festivities with a long-standing tradition where roles are inverted and laughing about everything and everybody is allowed. All these Carnival celebrations have an ancestral origin and were forbidden during the Spanish Civil War. Let’s take a look at the most relevant and colorful Carnivals.
Xinzo de Limia, Ourense
In this particular Carnival, the costumes are made to scare the villagers, specially the mask which represents some kind of evil with horns and it is decorated with ancestral symbols. Tradition says that if they find a woman without a costume they must dance around her to signal her out and if it is a man, they carry him on their shoulders to the nearest bar so he can pay for a round of drinks.
Chantada’s Carnival is full of color and music. These popular costumes are called “volantes”, colorful frills with an ornate headpiece made of paper flowers. They walk around the streets dancing and banging their sticks. In the past, this celebration was a fertility ritual for crops and honoring the beginning of spring in Galicia.
This elaborated and extravagant costume can weight up to 25 kilos due to the amount of fabric, the bells around their waists and the headpiece which always has the image of an animal. They go through town threatening people with their sticks, specially if they find someone without a costume.
Madames and Mesieurs (Ladies and Gentlemen) are the typical characters of this Carnival. Their costumes represent and mock the social and economic status of the wealthy. They walk around accompanied by bands showing off their outfits and inviting people to dance.
Viana do Bolo, Ourense
This village is in the middle of the mountains and they also have the colorful costume typical of the interior of Galicia. Their costumes are made of paper and silk ribbons with wooden masks crowned by elaborated crests. Their main goal is to make way for the bands that play their music around town.