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Monday, 28 September 2009

Meeting the Devil

The devil arriving at the fiesta, San Miguel, Breña Alta

La Palma has several fiestas where the devil appears. On Saturday night I went to one in San Miguel, a little village in Breña Alta. It started off like most fiestas - a band playing in the village square, with a couple of kiosks selling drinks and snacks, and a stall selling cheap kid's toys. Then, a little after 1 am, a group of special characters arrived: giants and "big heads" (cabezudos). They're a staple of Palmeran fiestas. The "big heads" are people in costumes including an outsize, moulded head. This lot included a couple of Snow White's dwarves, a wizard, Bart Simpson, and two witches, which is traditional. As usual, the witches had soft plastic sticks to whack people with, which is the bit the older kids love best. The giants are extra tall costumes, maybe twelve feet tall, which must be rather difficult to steer.

The devil, spouting fire at San Miguel, Brena Alta

The whole procession works its way down the hill, until it's below the square with the dancing. Then the devil appears with them. It's a man in a costume including a "big head", with fireworks on his trident and the head. He works his way up the hill again, to just above the church.

Then the cross lights up with fireworks, and the devil promptly scarpers.

And then they light more fireworks, set up to spin like catherine wheels.

Catherine Wheels

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