Adeje’s popular patron saint

Thousands turn out to honour San Sebastian

During this morning, Saturday January 20th, thousands of people were in La Caleta in Adeje to celebrate one of the oldest festivals in the south of Tenerife. The festival of San Sebastián has been celebrated in Adeje since the 18th century, adapted over time to meet and acquire new needs and customs.

Resident and visitors filled the plaza and the La Enramada beach to mark the day, attending both the religious part of the celebrations as well as the highly popular section when almost 130 horses and riders took a short dip in the sea.

Adeje mayor José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga said that the location of the fiesta was one which had been a meeting place in the past, and confirmed that this was one of the oldest celebrations in the south of the island. “It is probable that the Guanches (Tenerife aborigines) held celebrations in this area and, following their conversion to Christianity, continued to celebrate here and that spontaneous continuance is part of our heritage, but also shows our strength as a people who belong to a community who are consistently looking to move forward and adapt”.

He continued, “One of the nicest things about this festival is the coming together and meeting up with so many different people. San Sebastián is a reflection of our day to day lives with roots in our past. It is a day when we remember our history, from where we have come, those who have gone from our lives too. The fiesta of San Sebastian has become a celebration that transcends individual religious beliefs which is when we enjoy this day so much, why it has become an international celebration”.

Celebrations began at midday with a sung mass, broadcast live by Radio Sur Adeje, the municipal station, on air and online. Events were also broadcast live by other local and regional radio and television stations. After mass the statue of San Sebastian was carried out of the church and, accompanied by the Adeje Patron band, walked to the La Enramada beach followed by the traditional parade of horses and riders, with a camel, small ponies and a few donkeys as well.

After the sea dip, the statue and the animals returned to the main Street in front of the church where the parish priest blessed them all, including a flock of goats and the many domestic animals members of the public had brought along for the purpose.

The festival atmosphere throughout the morning was a reflection of the social harmony that Adeje is always keen to encourage especially on days like this, where residents and visitors, both from other parts of the islands and the country as well as from abroad, come together in one of Adeje’s most popular fiestas.

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Adeje’s San Sebastian celebrations

 

Adeje is getting ready to pay homage to one of the borough’s patron saints, San Sebastián, a celebration which dates back to the 18th Century and which takes place along the beach of La Enramada in La
Caleta, adapted over the years. This year celebrations take place on January 19th and 20th and those who wish to take part (as riders, etc) must have registered by January 12th.

Events will begin from 8pm on Friday January 19th with a sung mass in the La Caleta church, after which the statue of San Sebastian will take part in a short parade accompanied by the Adeje municipal band, with fireworks. This will be followed by a festival of folk music and visitors will also be able to view the open air exhibition of images/photographs of the tradition of San Sebastian in the borough.

On Saturday January 20th at midday there will be a mass sung by the Santa Úrsula parish choir, after which the procession to the beach will begin, accompanied, as is the custom, by horses and riders and many more animals, as well as the thousands of spectators who will await them along the beach. Upon the return to the square the priest will bless others animals that have been brought to the event.

The council will be organising parking for the duration of the events designed to leave the main streets free for visitors and residents to enjoy the celebrations and for better traffic circulation. There will also be designated viewing areas for people with mobility difficulties.

The Adeje statue of San Sebastián was commissioned for the borough by Fr. Eulogio Gutiérrez Estévez (1851-1917) who was the parish priest in the borough for 17 years. Over the years many have attributed miracles to the statue and the saint, and many still pray to him for relief from pain and suffering. A report in the 1916 Gazeta de Tenerife speaks of the celebrations that year, reporting on local fun, and a procession of over 100 camels and other ‘beasts of burden’ to the beach accompanied by more than 2,000 members of the public.

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A promise kept

Adeje’s holy Patron is brought to San Sebastián, keeping a 300 year old promise
This Sunday, April 30th, known in the Catholic Church as Divine Mercy Sunday, is also the day when the people of Adeje keep a 300-year-old promise to their Patron, the Virgin of the Incarnation. The statue of Our Lady is brought from her home in the Santa Úrsula church to her original church in La Caleta.

The pilgrim walk will begin at 9am from the Santa Úrsula church and walk along the traditional mountain path to the ‘Humilladero’ where, according to tradition, the statue was first discovered. After the stop she will continue to the San Sebastián church in La Caleta where there will be a lunch before a return to Adeje town.

This ‘Rogation’ is a tradition that began in the 16th Century, where the Marquis of Adeje, Pedro de Ponte, decided to bring the statue to the town to protect her from marauding pirates along the coast. The residents of the time where not thrilled at the decision, so promised to bring her back once a year to her original home.

The tradition lasted through the years, during which time residents also prayed for her help in ridding the land of a plague of locusts, in combatting famine and illness and more – all of which is recorded in the Libro de Milagros de Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación (the Book of Miracles of Our Lady of the Incarnation), which is stored in the parish archives.

The first statue of Our Lady of the Incarnation was found in this zone during the first years of the conquest of Tenerife, when the tradition of sacred worship was introduced to the island.


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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.

Devotees, goat’s milk and bouquets of flowers

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Once again the Adeje councillor for heritage, Juan Desiderio Afonso Ruiz has found a gem in the Adeje archives regarding the celebration of the feast day of the town’s co-founder, San Sebastián.

According to a newspaper article in the ‘Gaceta de Tenerife’ a “catholic daily information newspaper” the people of Adeje were just as eager to celebrate the Feast day of San Sebastián in 1916 as today. The piece, published on January 29th of that year, details how the population of this town, “once the secular court of the aborigine kings of Tenerife, celebrated the fiesta…with extraordinary solemnity”. It details how, from 8.30 on the morning of January 20th, people began to gather as the bells tolled, “from every street corner and all the paths that led to the town, walking in procession behind the new statue of San Sebastián, a work credited to a sculpture studio, Valenciana de Bririllo”. The author also wrote of the “intense faith” displayed by many of the participants, with promises to complete a named journey on their knees, gifts of money or candles lit, and one farmer who “said he would give anyone who asked for it milk to drink from his goats – of which he has 100 – as part of a promise made to Santo Mártir who cured his herd of a dreadful ailment. Many also brought their cattle and even dogs to the hermitage”.
According to the author over 2,000 people attended the event 99 years ago and mass was said by Fr Eulogio Gutiérrez Estevez, who was the parish priest in Adeje for 17 years, and who, according to a blog by historian Octavio Rodríguez Delgado, was possibly the person responsible for bringing the statue of San Sebastián, which is the one still carried in the procession today almost one hundred years later, to the parish. Following the mass there was the eagerly anticipated procession to the sea with people throwing bouquets of flowers into the water, followed by a meal with food brought by residents from their homes, until sundown, “the end of a day of good fortune for the body and soul and prosperous for the religion and economy of the town”, concluded the newspaper article.

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.