Riders to the sea

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On Friday Adeje celebrates San Sebastián, one of the oldest fiestas on the island

Adeje is getting ready to celebrate the feast day of one of its patron saints, San Sebastián, with the main event taking place on the La Enramada beach on Friday, January 20th, after 12 midday mass. This fiesta was first celebrated here in Adeje during the 16th century, though has been adapted over time.

Devotions begin on Thursday January 19th with a sung mass at 8pm in the church in the San Sebastián plaza in La Caleta, with the Armeñime Parranda Boleros. This will be followed by a procession in the locality with music from the Adeje town band, and the evening will end with a fireworks display. There will also be an open-air photography exhibition telling the story of the celebrations down the years and a folklore festival with the participation of a number of groups, including the Adeje folklore school, Imoque and La Diata. There will also be tables and stalls offering food and drink.

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According to the councillor for creativity Adolfo Alonso Ferrera, “San Sebastián is a sign of our identity in Adeje, and a festival that brings a multitude of people together from many different parts. In recent years the feast day has become an important one in the borough’s tourism calendar and many people now schedule their holidays to coincide with the event.”

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The big day is Friday January 20th, with mass in the San Sebastián church at midday sung by the Santa Úrsula parochial choir. This will be followed by a procession with the Puerto de la Cruz trumpet and drum band, and then the traditional riding of horses into the sea at the La Enramada beach. The statue of the saint is then carried to the water and returned to the church where he meets the statue of the other patron of Adeje, the Virgin of the Incarnation. The religious acts then conclude with a blessing of all the animals that have been brought along, from cattle to pets.

Given the large number of people expected to attend the events, in particular on Friday, the council will have a large number of security and safety personnel in attendance.

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Department of Communications

Viva San Sebastián

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Explaining to a ten year old just what a martyr is and how a town can adopt one (“but how many years ago did he die, why did they kill him and how can you adopt someone who is dead”) was my start to this year’s celebration’s of San Sebastián, one of Adeje’s patron saints, and an event that brings residents and tourists out in their thousands to the beach in La Enramada in La Caleta to watch the horses being brought down to the sea for a swim.

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The ‘horses on the beach’ section of the day is only a part of a larger celebration, with small folk groups singing, mass, fireworks the night before and the launch of a fantastic book about San Sebastián in Adeje through the eyes of some of the borough’s older residents, but for many it’s the most important bit. And it’s probably one of the occasions when the international resident’s feel very much ‘Adejeros’ as they bring their families to this event year after year, and spend time explaining it to invited guests from abroad or perhaps tourists who stand beside them on the beach waiting for the horses to arrive. The waiting is hours-long for ten or fifteen minutes of equine presence, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s a sunny day, we’re on the beach, with friends and family, it’s a local fiesta, what’s not to like.

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And no-one left the scene unhappy. The thousands who arrived (once an elusive parking place had been found) were happy with the spectacle, the kids loved the ponies and donkeys who were also part of the four-legged beach parade, San Sebastián was carried, respectfully, to the water’s edge, homage paid and returned to his church, and people wandered happily home or went back to the plaza to watch the other animals being blessed, enjoy a tapas or two with a beer or glass of wine, music playing, sun shining.
Viva San Sebastiàn, Viva.

San Sebastián, Adeje pays homage

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With Christmas and the Three Kings celebrations out of the way Adeje is now ready for the next annual fiesta –that of the town’s co-patron, San Sebastián.

This is one of the most popular and engaging fiestas in Tenerife, with the bathing of horses and other four-legged mounts at the La Enramada beach the highlight of the festivities. According to the councillor for culture, Nayra Medina Bethencourt, “San Sebastián is a perfect coming together of people who live in Adeje and those who are visiting the borough. The plaza de San Sebastián in La Caleta is the perfect stage for this celebration of harmonious co-existence on January 20th”. And this year too the borough begins to celebrate the 100th year of the presence of the statue of San Sebastián which is carried ceremoniously to the sea, brought to the parish in 1916 by the parish priest of the time, Eulogio Gutiérrez Estévez.

In fact the celebrations begin on Monday January 19th with a two-day open air exhibition of municipal photographs. The ‘pinchos’ competition also returns. Pinchos are small tapas on a cocktail stick, cheap and tasty, and ideal for eating on the street. You can vote for your favourite pincho from 7pm to midnight. Mass with the Santa Ana folklore group in honour of San Sebastián will be celebrated at 8pm followed by a procession with the Adeje Municipal Band, and fireworks.

From 7pm there will also be a ‘Parrandas’ evening, with small music groups playing in public, among them the Paranda Boleros de Armeñime, G. F. La Diata, A. C. Cultural Imoque, the Parranda El Mesturao and the Adeje Municipal Folklore group.

The 20th of January is the actual feast day of San Sebastián and events begin at 12 midday with mass in honour of the Saint sung by the Santa Úrsula de Adeje parochial choir. The procession with the image of the saint then moves outside and takes the pilgrims down to La Enramada beach where the crowds will be waiting to see the traditional bathing of the horses, and quite often a few donkeys and maybe a camel or two.

This is a fiesta stepped in local traditions and was first celebrated here in the 18th century. Over the years country people and local Adeje farmers and beyond continued with their devotions to the saint in a very particular and special way. Many have attributed miracles to the statue of San Sebastián, including cures and favours granted.

Security
Given that up to 20,000 people take part in the celebrations every year, the council has made sure there will be more than adequate security cover, with personnel from the Policia Local, the Civil Protection Unit, the Sea Rescue service, ambulances and health professionals. Please take note of any access restrictions on the streets or on the beach in advance of the procession as they are there for the public’s security.

Some parking restrictions will be in place to facilitate free flow of traffic and allow people walk along the streets. There will also be a zone cordoned off for farm animals who are taking part in the festivities.

People are also reminded that they should come in time to park and walk, wear clothes and shoes that are comfortable, use sun cream (particularly with children) and bring water. If you are bringing you own pet/animal they must be on a lead and bring food and water for them too.

Viva San Sebastián

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Adeje was buzzing with over 20,000 pilgrims yesterday as the small town of La Caleta hosted one of the borough’s most popular feast-days, San Sebastián.
Residents from the borough’s multicultural hub mixed with tourists – though the confused group of German ramblers looking at the bus timetable just outside the Church in the San Sebastián plaza were in for a long wait –and many people also brought their pets down for the traditional blessing after midday mass.
San Sebastián is one of Adeje’s patron saints and each year his feast day is celebrated through mass, song, and the hugely popular riding of horses down to the at La Enramada beach for a bathe as the statue of the saint is also carried down to the water’s edge. San Sebastián is one of the oldest fiestas in Tenerife and certainly one of the most original, and this year didn’t disappoint the thousands who were there to capture the special moments.
Adeje’s councillor for culture, Nayra Medina Bethencourt, said she was delighted with the participation of people from all over the island and beyond, adding that there was noticeably more pets and horse riders than last year. “The feast of San Sebastián has been celebrated here since the 18th century and has always been a celebration of harmonious co-existence. Every year more and more people come to seek the blessing and protection of our Saint. This is, without doubt, one of the most enjoyed fiestas in South Tenerife, and we are always looking ahead to make sure that future generations continue to celebrate the tradition”.
After the trip to the sea, the statue returned to the plaza and the blessing of animals took place, with dogs, cats, turtles, hamsters, birds and goats among the recipients.
This year the council also organised a tapas/pinchos competition among the restaurants providing food and drink during the festival, with the public voting. There was a draw, with stalls from Fañabé and Taucho both delighting the public’s taste buds.
Other participants in the weekend event included many small local traditional singing groups, and the stand for the Adeje Clean and Healthy campaign was also a draw, with information leaflets on the ongoing campaign available to the public in English, Spanish, German and French as well as presentation dog collars and reusable shopping bags,
Mention also has to be made of the excellent work done by all the local security forces. The police kept the streets clear with good humour and friendliness, and the work of the local Civil Protection unit on the beach was perfectly firm but sympathetic to the many members of the public who were jostling for best position as the horses made their way to the water.
All in all another great day for people and animals, and already looking forward to next year.

Riders To The Sea

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On Monday Adeje celebrates the feast of San Sebastián, one of the most popular fiesta days in South Tenerife.

One of the many lovely things about living here is the perfectly acceptable combination of religious and popular festivities, and San Sebastián is no exception, After the solemn mass in the church in La Caleta on Monday, there will be the traditional blessing of the animals – and many people bring their dogs and other four legged friends to the plaza for the event, to join the sheep, goats, oxen, donkeys and horses there. Following this there is the highly anticipated and iconic riding of the horses into the sea at La Enramada beach, always a spectacle and usually with a surprise or two – last year a camel joined the equine wave.

Here are the events happening over the next day or two.

SUNDAY JANUARY 19
“SAN SEBASTIÁN, A TRADITION”. Open air exhibition with photographs from the borough’s archives. From 19th – 20th January.

“D’pinchos por San Sebastián” . Vote for the best ‘pincho’, which is a tapas on a cocktail stick. With the Adeje Fiestas Committee 2014. From 7pm to midnight.

6pm. Sung mass in honour of San Sebastián, Martyr.

7pm. Procession with the image of San Sebastián along the streets accompanied by the Municipal Band. On the return to the temple there will be a fireworks display.

“NOCHE DE PARRANDAS” (NIGHT OF MUSIC AND SONG)
8pm. G.F. La Diata
8.45pm. A.C. Imoque
9.30pm. Parranda “El Mesturao”
10.15pm. Group from the Adeje Folklore School
MONDAY JANUARY 20
12 noon. Mass in honour of San Sebastián, Martyr, sung by the Santa Úrsula de Adeje parish choir. After mass the procession will take the usual route accompanied by the Adeje Municipal Band, culminating in the traditional blessing of the animals and then the horses and riders take a bathe in the waters by La Enramada beach.

6pm: Eucharist.

 

The San Sebastián flood

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The Adeje councillor for heritage, Desiderio Afonso Ruiz has uncovered, through interviews with some of the borough’s older residents, a relatively unknown story from the 1950s regarding a flash flood during the Feast of San Sebastián, celebrated on January 20th. As has always been the tradition, and continues today, hundreds of pilgrims walk with the statue from Adeje to La Caleta, through fields and barrancos.

“At that time the day of San Sebastián dawned bright and sunny, with people, animals, and carts taking part in the pilgrimage, when suddenly, around about midday, the skies clouded over and it began to rain with a fierce intensity. The barranco became a river, and many of the pilgrims were caught unawares. One family were trapped on what had become an island in the middle of the barranco, and the level of the water had risen so quickly there was no way to save them. The Guardia Civil tried to throw them a rope to help pull them out but were unable to reach the family. The water was also rushing down the barranco with such force that people were shouting out to the saint himself to intercede to save the family. …According to the story, when the picture of the saint arrived at the edge of the river, the waters calmed, “miraculously” and with the aid of a human chain, formed by the men of the party, including Don Antonio the shepherd, the family were saved. Since that day they say that San Sebastián calms the waters”.
Councillor Desiderio has investigated the story, and says that as there is no written account of the events that took place, we need to rely on oral sources. This story has passed, he says, from generation to generation. He took time to speak to a number of the borough’s older residents who have told him that they saw the event first hand, and others who weren’t present but who heard about the event the day it happened.
He says we cannot be sure of the exact year of the flood, and that almost everyone he spoke to had a different date in their memory, from 1950 to 1933…”so”, he says “we believe it happened during the first half of the 1950s”.
Desiderio has thanked those who took the time to tell him the tale, and includes Ana María Afonso Quintero, Pilar Afonso Pláceres, Maria del Carmen Rodriguez Quintero, Maria Luisa Vargas, José Francisco García, Ofelia Díaz Rivero, Antonio Rodríguez Rodríguez, Manuel Jesús Ramos Hernández and Francisco Lima Trujillo.

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