Las Cantaderas

Cantaderas, Las

Late September or early October
The Fiesta of Las Cantaderas is held in the town of León, Spain. It dates back to a time when four parishes—San Marcelo, Mercado, San Martín, and Santa Ana—were required to contribute four to six young girls, 8-12 years old, as an annual tribute to the Moors. No family could escape this requirement, and any family without a daughter needed to provide a girl and costume her. When the king of León finally freed the population of this burden, the girls sang and danced in the streets to celebrate.
These days the cantaderas form a parade, starting at the town hall. They dance and sing their way down the street, directed by a woman called the sotadera, who is costumed in a veil and sequined, silk turban. The girls bear fruit baskets or other offerings, which they later give to the bishop. Although civil authorities regard these gifts as a voluntary offering, church authorities still see them as a necessary ceremony going back to feudal times.
Tourist Office of Spain
666 Fifth Ave., 35th Fl.
New York, NY 10103
212-265-8822; fax: 212-265-8864
SpanFiestas-1968, p. 173
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.