Festival of the Cow

Cow, Festival of the

January 25
The Fiesta de la Vaca takes place in the village of San Pablo de los Montes, in the Spanish province of Toledo, on St. Paul's Day. While the religious procession and mass that are a traditional part of the observance of the feast of San Pablo are going on, a group of young men form a counter-procession in the opposite direction. One of them plays the role of the cow, La Vaca, while another is dressed as Mother Sow, Madre Cochina. A third is dressed as a shepherd, and there are others ringing cow bells. Every time the group passes the image of the saint, they call out, "Here goes the cow!"
After the mass is over, the mayor and the town councilmen follow the priest to the town hall for the correr de la Vaca, or Race of the Cow. La Vaca and the rest of the young men in the group run from the church to the town hall, La Vaca menacing the spectators with his horns. After the Cow arrives at the town hall, the young men are greeted by the mayor, and a celebration with wine follows. Everyone goes home when the church bells ring at noon.
It is believed that the Festival of the Cow is the remnant of a pagan festival and that it survived in opposition to the Christian festivities. Today, however, the two exist quite peacefully side by side.
CONTACTS:
Tourist Office of Spain
666 Fifth Ave., 35th Fl.
New York, NY 10103
212-265-8822; fax: 212-265-8864
www.okspain.org
SOURCES:
DictFolkMyth-1984, p. 1063
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