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TRADITIONS & CUSTOMS

Folklore, customs and traditions form part of the cultural landscape of a town. The passing of time allows us to witness these events. Some of these traditions and customs have disappeared, whilst other long lost ones have reappeared. In line with the calendar, we shall analyse the traditions and customs, divided into two groups: those which have been lost and those which live on.

Christmas: The lost traditions include the Collections: the boys, accompanied by castanets, drums and tambourines would pass on seasonal greetings with their popular songs. The locals were then invited to have cake, sweet wine, etc.
The current ones comprise the custom of Christmas, New Year and Epiphany, when the lively Pastorela, composed by Gorriti, is sung and the baby Jesus is worshipped at the end of Mass.

Candlemas:
The tradition of offering the Virgin a lit candle is still practised on the 2nd February. This custom dates back to the year 1746.

San Blas: On the 5th February a wide range of products are blessed by the priest, in the belief that the Saint bestows upon them remedies against sore throats.

Santa Águeda:
Formerly the choirboys would make a collection using a small statue of the Saint, and on the evening of the 4th February they had their collection for supper (generally chorizo and eggs). The archives from the year 1671 contain details of this tradition.

Thursday For Everybody:
This tradition is becoming ever more widespread. It is also known as Lardum Thursday. Cards are dealt and the person who receives the ace of gold (the chicken) offers his or her house for tea with a typical chorizo omelette.

Holy Week:
One of the most notable traditions from this time is Palm Sunday, when children carried olive branches full of sweets, whilst the authorities carried palms which were later placed on the balconies for protection against the storms.
Processions take place on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

"The Wolves" (hooded individuals who carry the images, based on families) take out La Dolorosa, El Tumbado, El Nazareno, El Santo Cristo, etc. Formerly 48 quatrains were recited on Maundy Thursday and 25 laments on Good Friday, the latter with a chorus:
Cry, since my eyes,
Cry for your loved one

Nowadays these verses, unique and anonymous, which describe the passion, are once again recited.
Formerly the Act of the Disciples was represented on Maundy Thursday. This involved 12 boys, generally those who had had their First Communion this year, wearing a distinctive white handkerchief around their neck. The foot of the cross which existed in El Crucero would be adorned in the morning. In the evening procession they knelt on grass which had been carefully cut into the shape of blocks. Then, in the church, the shoe of the boy representing Judas was hidden during the washing of the feet. This boy searched desperately for his shoe around the alter, becoming the source of mockery.
Another curious tradition was the sounding of rattles on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of Holy Week. A candle was extinguished in each pause of the Miserere. The last candle was put out to the sound of rattles and the stamping of feet. The noise was huge. The significance of this was the roar which made the earth shudder due to the death of the Lord.

Judas:
This long lost tradition is of particular interest, given the involvement of the entire town. There is a great deal of documentation on this chapter. On 8th April 1917 the last "Judas" was held in Elciego. It would appear that the date coincided with Easter Sunday.

This representation can be classified as a true tragicomedy in which there was a protagonist, Judas, those in charge of order, the soldiers, the macebearers and the horsemen, a speaker, the officer, with top hat and official waistcoat, the prosecutor, the defence lawyer and the judge, in addition to the crier, who exclaimed, between sobs, "for keeping bad company", and the courier, who, mounted on a white horse, completed the route from the square to the Cross and Plaza Predicador, dressed in clerical habits, recounting all the visible defects during his famous burlesque sermon.
Finally, at the end of this process, following all the whimpering and whining, was the condemnatory sentence: "Reus est mortis". Judas was replaced by a doll and hanged and burned.

All this representation has a profound sense of "purging of evil". The defects of named local residents were recounted, but in a healthy way and with great sense of humour.
 



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