Jarramplas, Piornal thief

This representative of the cultural heritage of Piornal is met by a hail of turnips every year during the festival of San Sebastián.

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The Jerte thief

Location and Contact:

Piornal , Cáceres (Extremadura)
  • This representative of the cultural heritage of Piornal is met by a hail of turnips every year during the festival of San Sebastián.

    Jarramplas takes place every year on 19th and 20th January, during the San Sebastián festivities, in the town of Piornal. A man dressed as a devil with a costume covered in multicoloured ribbons and his face hidden behind a conical mask with a huge nose, horns and a horse's mane, runs along the streets of the highest town in the Jerte Valley, playing a small drum while the inhabitants of Piornal bombard him with turnips as punishment.

    The origins of the tradition are uncertain, but the old folk of Piornal usually tell the tale that Jarramplas was a cattle thief who villagers got their revenge on one day by flinging loads of vegetables at him. But there are those who say that this holiday is derived from mythology and the punishment that Hercules gave Cacus, while others say that Jarramplas was an imported native American tradition. From the Christian era, the belief is that Jarramplas would be San Sebastián, a Christian warrior despised by his own companions for having become a spy and for being constantly surrounded by infidels. The story ends with the death of the saint.

    Be this as it may, Jarramplas runs along the streets of Piornal every year until he can no longer take any more. Only then does the festival end because, the harder the route and the longer he lasts, the prouder Jarramplas will be of himself.

    One of the high points of the festival, aside from when Jarramplas first appears, and when the turnip shower is at its heaviest, is when the character reaches the cross in the early hours between 19th and 20th January. Jarramplas kneels down and bangs his drum as the 12 strokes of midnight ring out from the clock tower. Then, as if arising from the darkness of the night, you can hear the aubades and then the rounds... And the procession continues.

    And so on until the next day when, after the celebrations and High Mass, the festival comes to an end with an invitation to come and eat "migas" at the prefect's house. The dish is served with chorizos, cheeses, wine, etc. - products provided by the friends of Jarramplas and the prefect as offerings requested for the saint over the two days.

    But in order to learn the story first-hand, it's best to experience it yourself: kneel in front of San Sebastián, taste the delicious "migas" from the region, throw turnips at the thief, sing aubades... only then will you know how an inhabitant of Piornal feels on the day of their biggest fiesta.

    *Picture: Mario Moreno Iglesias. 

  • Type:
  • Festivity of National Tourist Interest
  • Event subject:
  • History
  • Religion
  • Popular traditions
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    Target audience:

    • Families
    • Young people
    • Single people
    • Senior citizens
    • Children
    • Couples
    • Single people


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