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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tomatina 2008 -Spain

La Tomatina festival in Spain gives new meaning to the expression 'playing with your food'. For most of the year Bunol is a ho-hum industrial town, 40km (25mi) from Valencia, quietly going about its own business. But come the last Wednesday of August, the town's streets turns into a salsa riot, with over 20,000 revellers pelting each other with large, red, squishy tomatoes.

There are lots of theories on how the festival started; one is that it began in 1945 with anti-Franco protests, although any link between Franco and tomatoes remains ambigous. Another theory is that it started when two friends had a stand-up knock-down argument while sharing a meal. The argument quickly reached food-throwing proportions, infected acquaintances and nearby diners, moved out into the street, spread through the suburbs, progressed to neighbouring towns and eventually wound up as an annual event that attracted 'mata throwers from all corners of the the world.

The most likely explanation is that it started as a juvenile class war between bare-footed Troskyist macarras and el-ivy leaguers staying at Papa's summer house, the latter passing the former in a provocative way - that is to say, within tomato-throwing range. Like gangs of adolescents anywhere, it soon became a point of honour and a mark of tribal loyalty to make a stand at the tomato-stained barriers. As the event turned into a national event it lost its hostile political edge and became, instead, an unbridled Dionysian riot of flesh-baring bodies covered head to toe in tomato goo.

The standard uniform is an old T-shirt, old shorts and eye goggles. T-shirts with bullseyes printed on them are not recommended. Nearly 140 tons of tomatoes are trucked in from around the countryside and the argy-bargy begins with the firing of a rocket. An hour later the end of the festival is announced with the firing of another rocket and the clean up of the tomato-slimed streets begin.

What is La Tomatina?
The Tomatina is only one of the celebration of a week long festival with musical bands, fireworks, food, and over all fun. This is a war were there are expected to be no winners, but where all have fun.

Where is it?
La Tomatina takes place in Bunol, a small town 25 km (about 30 miles) west of Valencia and well connected by train and bus.

When does it take place?
On the last Wednesday of August, at the peak of tomato season, between 10 am and 1 pm. Everybody enjoys and the streets turn into rivers of tomato juice.

Dates for Tomatina
Tomatina 2008 August 27
Tomatina 2009 August 26
Tomatina 2010 August 25
Tomatina 2011 August 31
Tomatina 2012 August 29




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