Spain is known to take its fiestas and carnivals to a whole new level. Can you think of a holiday that doesn’t involve eating tasty tapas, dancing your heart out, binging on feasts or delicious sweets? While Spain’s Christmas celebrations begin by December 22, its very own version of “April Fool’s Day” known as Dia de los Santos Inocentes is certainly no exception to the celebrations.
Día de los Santos Inocentes – translated as The Holy Innocents’ Day
Where is it celebrated?
Mostly in all Hispanic countries
What’s the excitement all about?
Every year on this day everyone becomes wary that they may be the innocent soul that gets duped by friends. Very similar to the April Fool’s Day played in the UK, practical jokes are played on others, while groups of children in towns across Spain go from house to house asking for candy or cookies, making noise with spoons and anise bottles, and singing traditional Christmas songs.
How did it all start?
El Día de los Santos Inocentes is basically a religious holiday named in honor of the young children who were slaughtered by order of King Herod around the time of Jesus’ birth, when he heard the news of the birth of a new King in Israel (Jesus). He immediately ordered the massacre of all boys under the age of two in Bethlehem and its vicinity. Hence the name “Day of the Holy Innocents” fits perfectly well due to the many young victims and innocent souls that were lost that night.
Although the fest remains on the Catholic Liturgical calendar, the religious aspect has been almost forgotten today and the pranks that became popular during the Middle Ages have been combined with the winter festivities.
The celebration today is festive and fun, with people playing jokes and pranks on each other at every given opportunity – basically, just being kids! The most traditional joke is to pin a puppet or ragdoll on people’s backs. Another tradition is a television program in which celebrities from film and television are made the butt of jokes, with the purpose of raising money for a good cause. Children mostly go with the classic pranks like putting salt in the sugar bowl or sticking paper cut-outs on people’s backs.
Many unusual celebrations stemming from ancient traditions continue to be held as well, such as the “Flour Battle” that takes place in the streets of Ibi, Valencia and the “Crazy People’s Dance” in Jalance, also in Valencia.