San Antón Race in Navalvillar

For Saint Anthony's day, Navalvillar de Pela deck out their horses to commemorate how the Moors were scared away.

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Ghosts and "biñuelos"

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Navalvillar de Pela , Badajoz (Extremadura)
  • For Saint Anthony's day, Navalvillar de Pela deck out their horses to commemorate how the Moors were scared away.

    Tradition tells us that, in the Middle Ages, the Moors tried to invade Navalvillar de Pela but they fled in fear thinking that the town's resistance was a ghost army. Really, it was the townsfolk who, knowing that they were outnumbered in men and arms, lit bonfires and galloped around rapidly to the sound of drums and cowbells, wearing flowing white shirts and pointy hats and using the darkness of night to help them in their trickery.

    It all begins on 6 January, when the effigy of the saint, which is kept in a shrine, is brought down to the town in a procession, and it stays there in the church until its saint's day. Horsemen in typical dress accompany the saint.

    On the morning of the big day, the 16th, lorryloads of people from the town drive up the mountain to find brush and scrub to burn that night and they share them out at the crossroads and squares situated along the path of the procession. Once the work has been done, they park at strategic spots to give the people wine and doughnuts when the time comes.

    Meanwhile, the horsemen adorn their horses and prepare their outfits. The horses are dressed with the typical tassel rug, as they call it. These rugs are made with wool and cotton at the town's mill. The riders wear a pointy, multi-colour hat on their head, a multi-colour scarf around their neck, white shirt, red cummerbund, black felt or cord trousers, boots and leather chaps.

    But before the big celebration, the whole town goes to the animal blessing, including the riders, who take their horses for the priest to bless them.

    Then the big moment arrives. The prefect of the San Anton confraternity gives his speech to the town and, at eight o'clock on the dot, he shouts out: "Townsfolk, visitors, followers of San Antón, Long Live San Antón! Long live San Antón! Long live San Antón!" And then mayhem breaks out in the square, bells ring, rockets are fired, bonfires are lit and the horsemen start making their way down shouting "Viva" for San Antón, San Fulgencio, San Antonino and the little one.

    During the Race, the riders kiss the flag in Plaza Mayor, where a band brings hundreds of people together in what they call the infantry, which will take the same route as the riders while stopping off at all the open establishments, enjoying the music, the Pitarra wine and the "biñuelos" (fritters).

  • Type:
  • Tourist Interest in Extremadura
  • Event subject:
  • History
  • Religion
  • Popular traditions
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