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The Park

People and festivities (Popular Culture)

Agriculture and livestock raising -mainly grazing- have been the economic activities that have shaped the way of life of the people of the Martín River. The life of the rural society in which the Martín River Cultural Park is located has revolved around agricultural and livestock cycles.

And man organized his festivities around his work or economic support, the time of the year according to the climate and ultimately the way of life. And everything will revolve in this “daily” or “festive” sense, to the point that the Church respected the agricultural, sowing and harvesting and pastoral cycles, basing it on the divine rites of thanksgiving for the harvests , petition for fertility for the land and protection for domestic animals essential for the economic development of a traditional rural society. The Center of Interpretation of Popular Culture in Albalate del Arzobispo, reflects with wit and didactic acuity, these two aspects “the work and the party”. A team of more than 30 people worked for two years to compile the popular culture of the Cultural Park, making recordings, taking photographs and interviewing more than 500 people. The result was the creation of the Oral Archive of the Martín River, with a dual sound and visual background.

In this sense, we find a series of celebrations and symbolic acts, such as the winter festivities, whose rites are based on the farewell of winter to celebrate the arrival of spring “the growth of the day” and the return to agricultural work.

A cycle that would begin with St. Anton and the Holy Martyrs (St. Fabian and St. Sebastian) to end on February 14 with Valentine’s Day and which describes the popular saying “Valentine’s Day “. For San Antón (January 17) grows the day a little mouse step, For Santa María (February 2) hour and a half grows the day, for San Blas (February 3) a little more “or the one that says, referring to the first days of February, “…. the first day, the second St. Mary, the third St. Blaise, the fourth nothing and the fifth St. Agatha . “.

And indeed, the winter ends, the day grows and it is necessary to prepare the agricultural work by asking the mediation or intervention of the Saints and divinities. From there has come, as is traditional in most of the villages along the Martín River, the purifying rite of fire by lighting bonfires at the entrances to the villages illuminating the image of the Saints and Saints indicated, which are installed in peirons or in open chapels escorting and guarding the houses and invoking their intervention against the Plague so that it does not affect either the beasts or domestic animals – the mainstay of the family economy – or humans, and in this are the Saint Martyrs (Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian) and Saint Anton.

For San Blas, cakes, roscones and pastries are blessed, which must be eaten to save the throats, and he is considered the patron saint of wool carders. In Santa Agueda or Agatha the submissive and hard-working women, ring the bells taking the lead in the village singing “To Saint Agatha, blessed (or sacred) we come to sing, so that she will keep our teat and teat to the sacristan. “dancing in round dance holding hands in the town square. Nevertheless, the Saint protects women during childbirth and breastfeeding, relating her patronage to fertility. Valentine’s Day, which was originally a shepherds’ festival and was celebrated in honor of Saint Faunus, closes the cycle. The celebration of the Saint ensured the fertility of the fields and herds and was gradually associated with the feast of two Roman martyrs named Valentine, patron of lovers, of love, and therefore of the end of winter and the resurgence of life and fertility of the land.

Also during Holy Week, Palm and Easter Sundays are especially celebrated. The tradition of the blessing of palms and olive branches is maintained. The Holy Week processions are respected in all the localities, taking special significance in Albalate del Arzobispo, for the singular protagonism and roar of the great number of drums and bass drums that participate in them. This town is part of the famous Route of the Drum and Bass Drum of Lower Aragon, and its tamborradas were declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Remaining pilgrimages, spring festivities , to sanctuaries located in the Park or in surrounding areas, in which the people of the region participate with great devotion and fervor, bidding farewell to spring, giving thanks for the sowing and if the weather has been good”. March windy April rainy “.

On Easter Monday, after Easter Week, Oliete and surrounding villages gather in pilgrimage to the hermitage of San Pedro and the Virgen del Cantal hermitage. On May 22, Montalbán celebrated the pilgrimage to the hermitage of Santa Quiteria in Peñarroyas. Currently the chapel is in ruins. Torre de las Arcas for June celebrates the pilgrimage of the Virgen de Oto. Also in June for the Easter of Pentecost, most of the localities that make up the Cultural Park celebrate the pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Ntra. Mrs. del Olivar in Estercuel, coinciding with people from neighboring regions. On Quasimodo Monday and the following Sunday, the people of the region celebrate the pilgrimage to the sanctuary of the Virgin of Arcos in Albalate del Arzobispo.


Some days of the Santoral are also celebrated in a special way in the Cultural Park. Such is the case of San Isidro Labrador (May 15), whom the farmers take in procession to the orchards to bless the fields and ask for health and a good harvest. On St. John’s Day (June 24) in some localities it was traditional to go down to the river to wash your face, at 12 midnight while the chimes were ringing, today some elders still keep the tradition. August 15 celebrating the Virgin In some villages, two “mayordomesas” -young unmarried women- distribute blessed bouquets of basil -which their families have planted and carefully cared for- among those attending the mass and take care of the Virgin Mary during the year. Eight days later, on the day of the “octave”, the young women were replaced by two other young, unmarried female companions. Saint Barbara (December 4) is invoked to protect miners, especially in the localities where this activity has marked the economy of the municipality since the first third of the last century when the lignite mines began to be exploited in the area. At present it has special significance in Ariño.

Another significant day is the day of Corpus Christi, which is usually celebrated between the end of May and June. In the procession, 4 men hold the pallium accompanying the priest who carries the Corpus Christi or “Santísimo” as the sacred form is called in the area, passing through a mantle of flower petals that cover the street marking the direction of the procession and stopping at various altars that are distributed by squares and portals.


In summer, after the harvest, most of the localities celebrate their patron saint’s festivities, often on weekends to encourage the return to the village of people who have emigrated for work reasons: Montalban The celebrations are held around the second weekend of September in honor of the Virgen del Castillo and San Fa. The first weekend of September they celebrate the festivities of the Angel or the “mozos”. Peñarroyas around August 15 in honor of San Roque. Torre de las Arcas from August 8 to 12 in honor of San Miguel. Obón the festivities of the Virgin for August 15. Alcaine for San Agustín on August 28, which is brought forward to the previous weekend. Oliete on August 24 San Bartolomé and from 13 to 16 September in honor of the Virgen del Cantal and the exaltation of the Holy Cross. Alacón on August 15 for San Roque and on September 29 in honor of San Miguel. Ariño around August 15 in honor of San Salvador and San Roque. Albalate del Arzobispo closes the festive cycle the last week of September in honor of the Virgin of Arcos.

The men and women of the Cultural Park of the Martín River adapted their clothes according to the weather, the needs of the area and their “daily” work, or to commemorative occasions and “festive” celebrations as an escape from the daily routine, depending also on the sex, age and social status of the person. For all these reasons, it would be erroneous to speak of a single traditional costume.

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