Las Carantoñas of Acehúche

Grotesque masks, "tiraores" (shooters), "regaoras" (sprinklers), a drummer and "vaca tora" are the main characters of this festival

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Skins and rosemary

Location and Contact:

Acehúche , Cáceres (Extremadura)
  • Grotesque masks, "tiraores" (shooters), "regaoras" (sprinklers), a drummer and "vaca tora" are the main characters of this festival

    Every year, around Saint Sebastian's day, the town of Acehúche holds its "Carantoñas" festival. The exact origins of the festival are unknown but some believe it is a representation of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, who was respected and not eaten by the wild beasts of the forest after being shot with arrows.

    Be that as it may, the fact is that the "Carantoñas" festival is the one the people of Acehúche look forward to the most and, what is more, it is a Festival of National Tourist Interest. The gathering of rosemary by the prefect and his family on the morning of 19th January is the starting point for the two-day festival. That same day, at twilight, the young people and the children go to the "Gorrón Blanco" to greet the drummer, the person who will fill every second of the two-day festival with music.

    The next day, in the "alborá", the prefect walks along the streets of Acehúche with the drummer, waking up the men who will wear the grotesque masks and offering them coffee with "migas".

    Immediately, the "regaoras" or sprinklers – young women who sprinkle the streets with rosemary – begin their task: covering the church, its square and the streets around the prefect's house with the rosemary that was gathered the day before.

    Then comes the time to put on the "Carantoñas". The costume is usually made of sheepskins, goatskins or fox skins. The head is concealed by a horrible mask that may or may not be covered with skins, and may include teeth, animal ears, red peppers, etc. To finish off the outfit, they drag a dry olive branch along in their hands: the Tárama.

    Later all the characters have to meet up around the prefect's house, adorned with ornaments and hangings, and then go on to the church to look for the saint. There, after a series of songs and dances dedicated to Saint Sebastian have been performed in the church while the Carantoñas wait outside, the sprinklers and marksmen come out and form a passage through which the image of the saint will immediately follow. The Carantoñas precede Saint Sebastian and approach to bow to him.

    When the procession reaches the prefect's house, praise is given from the balcony, as a reference to Saint Sebastian's life and the favour granted. When the praisegiving is finished, the marksmen shoot into the air while the sprinklers throw confetti at Saint Sebastian.

    Afterwards the vaca tora, or cow in season – a Carantoña with horns and a big cowbell – appears and takes charge of scaring away the other Carantoñas.

    And what better way to finish the festival than by eating? The prefect holds the convite or banquet at his home, a tasting of regional wines and sweetmeats. And the following day, it all starts over again…

  • Type:
  • Festivity of National Tourist Interest
  • Tourist Interest in Extremadura
  • Event subject:
  • Religion
  • Popular traditions
  • Start date:
    End date:


    • Events

    Target audience:

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


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