Thousands flock to La Caleta as San Sebastián returns to the sea
Adeje celebrated one of the oldest traditions on the island yesterday, Friday 20th January, San Sebastián, who is the patron saint of the municipality in the south of Tenerife, honoured since the 16th century in what was a holy place long before the Spanish conquest of the islands.
Thousands flocked to La Caleta to take part in the religious celebration in the church, the parade to the sea, and the traditional blessing of the animals in the sea.
The official ceremonies began at midday with the mayor of Adeje, José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga, describing it as “the people’s fiesta”. He said that he was delighted to see “the festival for the people, for the animals, for those who have come faithfully, apart from the pandemic years, to show their devotion”.
Historically, he said, this could be the oldest celebration in the south of the island, with the Guanches (original Tenerife aborigines) celebrating here in this place, and following the arrival of Christianity they would have continued to do so. “This celebration is deeply rooted in our community”, he added.
The animals are part of the ‘main event’:
This year 80 horses and riders registered to take part, and joining them were goats, sheep, donkeys, camels, ponies, and dogs, accompanied by their owners.
There were different sections for the animals with enough space to keep them comfortably shaded with water and feed. The organisers also had a vet on hand to guarantee their well-being at all times.
As is traditional, following mass the procession brought the statue of the saint to the beach, to the water’s edge, where the horses and riders followed and entered the sea, with lifeguards, police, and health and safety personnel ensuring everyone was safe.
Leaving the beach, the statue was brought to the zone known as El Humilladero, and then to the plaza, to oversee the blessing of all the animals by the priest.
During the whole day food and drink were available at stalls staffed by different neighbourhood committees, and bars and restaurants from Adeje. There was an air of celebration throughout the event, with families and friends enjoying a day out in a spirit of community coexistence, a reflection of the borough.
History of the celebrations:
The first celebrations held for San Sebastian can be traced back to the 16th century in Adeje, and it has always been linked to a celebration of the land, agriculture, and farming. Many farming families from Adeje and beyond have been coming to these celebrations for centuries.
The statue of San Sebastián, normally resident in the hermitage which bears his name, was made in the Bririllo studio in Valencia and was brought to Adeje in 1916 according to a newspaper article published in La Gaceta de Tenerife in January of that year.
Whether you are a resident or on holiday for this date, it is something that is highly recommended to go to and see to witness one of the oldest traditions of Tenerife.
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