Feast of the Virgin of the Pillar

Virgin of the Pillar, Feast of the

October 12
According to an ancient legend, the Virgin Mary appeared to Santiago, or St. James the Apostle, when he was in Saragossa (Zaragoza), Aragón, Spain. She spoke to him from the top of a pillar, which he interpreted as a sign that he should build a chapel where the column stood. Nuestra Señora del Pilar has since become a major pilgrimage center.
The Feast of the Virgin of the Pillar is observed with special masses and processions in honor of La Virgen . The Gigantes —giant cardboard and canvas figures concealing the men who dance behind them—are brought out especially for the occasion. Often representing Spanish kings and queens or famous literary and historical figures, they can be 20- to 30-feet tall. The cabezudos, or "big heads," on the other hand, are grotesque puppets with huge heads which are meant to poke fun at certain professions or personalities. Also characteristic of the festival are jota contests in which Aragon's regional folk dance is performed to the accompaniment of guitars, mandolins, and lutes.
See also St. James's Day
CONTACTS:
Zaragoza Tourist Board
Plaza de Ntra. Sra. Del Pilar, s/n.
Zaragoza, Spain
34-976-201-200; fax: 34-976-721-281
www.zaragoza.es
SOURCES:
DictWrldRel-1989, p. 569
FestWestEur-1958, p. 205
IntlThFolk-1979, p. 344
OxYear-1999, p. 412
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