FESTIVALS AND ROMERÍAS
Romería: (def.) a popular festival celebrated near a chapel on the day dedicated to the saint or virgin of that sanctuary, usually including a procession and mass as well as food, folk music and dancing: a short, jubilant pilgrimage.
Pilgrimage to Morales:
The Romería del Cristo de Morales really
pertains to Morales del Vino, a village 4 km south of Zamora. Even so,
many residents of Zamora participate in a small pilgrimage due to its
proximity. The town hall of Zamora even provides city buses for those
who do not wish to walk but prefer not to miss the festivities in and
around la Ermita del Cristo (Christ’s Chapel) where it takes place:
just outside of the village.
The celebration begins the night before, but on May 9th the “pilgrims” make their way to the meadows of the small church to have a picnic. Nearby, there are food stands where they sell many rural delicacies from hazelnuts to doughnuts, as well as tapas and other typical foods. At 10:00 a.m., the procession begins from the Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (“Our Lady of Assumption”, in the center of the village) and when it reaches the chapel around 11:00 a.m., the mass is celebrated. Afterwards, the festival carries on in the immediate vicinity until the procession returns from the chapel to the church around 9:00 pm.
This day is not a bank holiday in the city.
Pilgrimage to Valderrey:
The Romería del Cristo de Valderrey
is celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter in the chapel
Ermita del Cristo de Valderrey, 4 km away from Zamora.
The Cristo de Valderrey remains in the city throughout the year in the Iglesia del Espíritu Santo (Church of the Holy Spirit). At 9:00 a.m. on the day of the pilgrimage, the Christ figure is processioned to the Chapel of Valderrey for mass. Afterwards, the procession continues through the surrounding meadows to “bless the fields”. Upon returning, a Solemn Mass is celebrated. The festivities continue with dancing, traditional songs and folk music, as well as the typical “meal in the fields”. There are food stands near the chapel for tapas and sangria as well as others with hazelnuts and the traditional rosquillas (doughnuts) of the Christ figure.
Fair and Festival of Saint Peter:
The 29th of June marks the official day of the Ferias y Fiestas de San Pedro, the patron saint of Zamora along with Saint Ildephonsus. For approximately ten days, the city comes to life with all kinds of activities: cultural, athletic, musical… fun for the whole family. Great fairs with a long tradition in the city also take place, most notably the “Feria de la Cerámica” (pottery) and the “Feria del Ajo” (garlic), not to mention the “Feria del Ganado” (livestock).
Coming from a long tradition which dates back to the 14th century, la Semana Santa de Zamora was awarded the honorific distinction of “International Touristic Interest” in 1986. Undoubtedly, it represents the most important week in the city as 17 brotherhoods and confraternities participate in processions mainly characterized by austerity, silence, piety and expressiveness.
Fair and Festival of September - Virgen de la Concha:
Coinciding with the 8th of September, a series of acts are programmed for
several days which vary from year to year called Feria y Fiesta de Septiembre
or the feast of the Virgen de la Concha. The most important episode is the
procession carrying the Madonna through the streets of Zamora to the Cathedral.
Within the sanctuary, the traditional flower offering takes place where citizens
of Zamora and the Province dressed in traditional clothing place flower bouquets
around the Virgin. Afterwards, mass is held in the Cathedral.
Other types of activities in the festivities include athletic competitions, lace-making, folk dancing, folk festivals, concerts of classical and modern music… The Virgen de la Concha was discovered in the crypt of Saint Antoninus in Palencia by King Sancho “el mayor” (the elder) in 1032 A.D.
In 1062 A.D. she was brought to Zamora by the Palencia residents themselves, who, according to legend, came to repopulate the area and defend the town against Moorish attacks. However, there is no remaining historical evidence of this belief. In 1100 A.D., she was consecrated as the patron saint of the town. The figure of the Virgin was strongly linked to the guild of wool dealers, principally from Palencia.
The seat of the figure, the Iglesia de San Antonín, is located in a neighborhood known as la Lana (“the wool”), where numerous weavers used to toil away in their workshops.
Pilgrimage to Hiniesta:
The Romería de la Hiniesta is celebrated
on the first Monday of Pentecost. For the last seven centuries, the
patron saint of Zamora, la Virgen de la Concha (Our Lady of Saint Antoninus),
has been carried from the city to la Hiniesta village, 8 km northwest.
This tradition commemorates the discovery of the Madonna figure in the
same village where the romería takes place. The schedule of events
includes the following:
At 8:00 a.m., in the Iglesia de San Antolín (Saint Antoninus) a special mass is held for the participants. Afterwards, the Madonna is carried walking to the village nearby. During the pilgrimage, several stops are made along the way.
- In the Iglesia de San Lazaro (Saint Lazarus) the procession stops to pray Salve Regina—“Hail, Holy Queen”—before the Virgen del Yermo and all the neighbors of this parish make their offering to the Virgen de la Concha by decorating her float with wild flowers.
- At the Cross of King Sancho, a prayer in remembrance of the monarch is uttered and the priest allows followers to adore the Child.
- On a hillcrest called “Teso de la Salve”, Salve Regina is sung this time and the procession resumes to the Hiniesta village where they are met by its mayor and residents.
Pilgrims may briefly stop at some country houses along the way where the stewards offer lemonade or sangria and biscuits to all those who participate in the event and sing and dance traditional jotas of Zamora and the province. Upon arriving in the Hiniesta, the Virgin is taken into the church for mass. The festival continues with lunch in the village or a picnic nearby. Around 5:00 p.m., the pilgrimage returns to Zamora, stopping at the meadows of the Hermita del Cristo del Valderrey for a picnic where the brethren once again offer sweets and lemonade to the participants. Then, the procession continues through the forest of Valorio to the Ermita de los Remedios where Salve Regina is sung once again and the Town Hall joins in.
Around 10:00 p.m., la Virgen de la Concha finally returns to the Iglesia de San Antolín.