Every year the people of Villanueva de la Vera bring the "Peropalo" to justice at carnival time.

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  2. El Peropalo

Fiesta revolving around a straw doll

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Villanueva de la Vera , Cáceres (Extremadura)
  • Every year the people of Villanueva de la Vera bring the "Peropalo" to justice at carnival time.

    Villanueva de la Vera carnival is one of the most special of its type held in Extremadura. Indeed, its antiquity and tradition are such that the "Peropalo" has been declared a Festivity of Tourist Interest in Extremadura. Every year, a straw doll, the "Peropalo", is brought to justice in the town day after day as of carnival Sunday until Shrove Tuesday, when it is finally burned among celebrations and lamentations. All Villanueva de la Vera locals take part in the acts, thus turning up for the "Peropalo" is to experience it first hand and enjoy a magnificent time co-existing with the inhabitants of the town, getting to know its customs, its folklore and tasting the traditional seasonal confectionery, which is a must.

    There are several hypotheses bandied about as to the origin of this fiesta, the most accepted being the one that identifies it with a pre-Roman, European agricultural fertility ritual. The so-called "Peropaleros" are in charge of making the straw doll as mysterious verses are being chanted. Afterwards, they organise all types of acts until reaching the final apotheosis.

    Every day, when the "Peropaleros" arrive at the square with the "Peropalo", before hanging him to make him ready for his punishment, they perform a ritual known as the "judiá" several times, which consists of two groups facing each other and then crossing each other either walking or running to the rhythm of traditional jotas and drums, while at the same time the straw doll is being bent down until nearly touching the ground.

    Carnival Tuesday morning sees the beginning of the "Peropalo's" trial for treason. When it is decided to put him to death, the sentence is stuck to this back. At three o' clock in the afternoon, a stall is set up at which three town councillors receive small contributions from offerers whom the "calabaceros" (pumpkin bearers) hit hard with pumpkins.

    There is an oath of allegiance ceremony held in the Plaza Mayor at which all the young male offerers show their ability with the flag, prior to finishing the acts with the tossing in blanket of the "Peropalo" before his imminent burning at the stake.

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

    • Families
    • Young people
    • Single people
    • Senior citizens
    • Children
    • Couples
    • Single people


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