Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Fiestas de la Virgen Blanca

The Fiestas de la Virgen Blanca (in Basque: Andre Maria Zuriaren Jaiak) have been celebrated every year, since 1884. It is held on 5 August, but the celebrations begin the day before, on the 4th, and end on 9 August it honours the patron saint of the city, and features a programme of special events, activities and free open-air concerts.

The actual festivity starts at six o'clock in the afternoon with the txupinazo and Celedon's (a rag doll with an umbrella) descent. Once Celedón reaches a balcony in the square, it is replaced by a human Celedón who then crosses the square on foot with some difficulty amongst the crowds. On arriving to the balcony of the Church of San Miguel, Celedón greets the crowds below and wishes everyone a happy celebration. On the morning of 5 August, the Blusas and the Neskak offer flowers to the Virgen Blanca. On 7 August the Children's Day is celebrated. The little Celedón or Celedón txiki descends in the same square as the first day, and later, Celedón txiki and neska txiki wish a happy celebration to all the children in Vitoria, from the Town Hall. On 10 August at one o'clock in the morning Celedon ascends and this marks the end of the Virgen Blanca Festivities.

This festitvity has been celebrated since 1884. In 1957, a group of friends created a Celedon’s descent, as an analogy to the inhabitants of nearby villages, who went to Vitoria-Gasteiz to celebrate the festivities. The initial idea was a parachutist, but due to technical difficulties they created a rag doll that descends from the Church-tower to a balcony in the square.

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