The Canary Islands are named the Fortunate Islands for their excellent climate throughout the year, which makes them perfect as a holiday destination. But in addition, its culture includes very varied influences, which materializes in a wide wealth of customs. So, if you want to enjoy that rest time in a different way, we invite you to discover some of the best Canarian traditions.
In Lopesan Hotel Group we not only offer you the best service to give you those well-deserved holidays, but we also want to discover with you some of the Canarian traditions that prevail and the customs that are still in force on the islands. Do you want to know more?
These two articles on our blog will serve as an “aperitif” so that you get to know well the charms of these wonderful islands:
The Canary Islands since their conquest by the Castilian crown have been a place of passage and communication between 3 continents: Europe, Africa and America. The influence of these three continents added to the uses and customs of the Canarian aborigines, former inhabitants of the islands, has contributed to the archipelago having a rich and varied culture with its own identity.
The culture of the Canary Islands encompasses very diverse areas and for visitors, this is especially evident in religious festivals, pilgrimages, native sports, games and forms of communication. Canarian traditions denote the joy and festivity that characterize “the lucky islands of Spain”. So let’s go into each one of them.
As part of the Canary Islands’ traditions, the Gomero whistle cannot be missed, a typical form of communication on this island for communicating over long distances. How long? Up to about five kilometres, taking advantage of the short length of La Gomera, being one of the smallest islands in the Canaries. As its name indicates, the rubber whistle carries a message through the whistle.
Its speakers are recognised as whistlers. This Canarian custom was invented by the natives of the area and they have tried to revitalize its use by teaching young people about its use in schools.
This festival is held in the municipality of Betancuria on Fuerteventura around the third Saturday of September, in Vega del Río Palmas. It was originally a pagan festival, held on the island to mark the end of the harvest of the cereals grown during the second half of September, before the autumn rains. The inhabitants of the island used to gather there to dance, sing and socialize.
It was in the middle of the 17th century when this festival acquired a religious character in honor of the Virgen de la Peña, chosen as the patron saint of Fuerteventura. Nowadays, the tradition is still maintained, and pilgrims and devotees leave the island on Friday to arrive before Saturday at noon at the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Peña. During the journey, the pilgrims sing traditional songs and perform dances in honor of the Virgin, as well as carrying all kinds of offerings in carts.
In Puerto del Rosario, from the 1st to the 7th of October, the festivities in honor of the Virgen del Rosario, as the patron saint of the capital of the island of Fuerteventura, are held. During the seven days that the celebrations last, many recreational and cultural activities take place, such as festivals and concerts, in which the inhabitants of the city participate. It is worth mentioning the pilgrimage that runs through the streets of Puerto del Rosario, where you can enjoy the traditional songs and dances of the island of Fuerteventura.
In June, during the shortest night of the year, before the summer solstice, one of the oldest Canarian customs takes place on the beaches all over Spain, and also in the archipelago, the Night of San Juan. It is a kind of purification rite to eliminate all those negative things you want to leave behind, by making a bonfire.
If you want to enjoy one of the most deeply rooted traditions in the Canary Islands, you must jump through that fire to be lucky all year round; but if you don’t like fire, during the night of San Juan you also get used to bathing in the sea as a symbol of purification.
This curious celebration takes place every 11 September in the village of San Nicolás, in Gran Canaria. So, take note if you want to be part of it. It’s different because it’s a traditional Canarian aboriginal way of fishing, called embarbascada, in which the animals caught in the puddles are stunned.
These ponds are formed by the flooding of seawater due to the rising sea level at this time. It is part of the Canarian traditions that have prevailed since the aborigines and it is very interesting to see how the inhabitants of the island try to catch the fish, usually with their hands.
To the rhythm of the music, on the 5th of August they enjoy the festival of La Rama in Agaete in Gran Canaria. The dancers wave the branches, brought from the Mountain of Tirma, all over the village until they reach the hermitage of the Virgen de las Nieves in the Port of Agaete, while they dance the bands play traditional festive music.
This custom is part of one of the most popular and century-old Canarian traditions that is celebrated with the arrival of autumn. La Traída del Gofio y el Agua has its origin in Villa de Agüimes (Gran Canaria) and has been celebrated since 1646. The custom of bringing from the Molinos de Lolita and Ananías, on the outskirts of the town, to take to the inhabitants of the municipality.
Today, the task of carrying the gofio (a sort of cornflour) still recreated, but when the pilgrims return they are welcomed with buckets of water thrown from the houses. It ends with a festival in the Nuestra Señora del Rosario Square.
La Traída del Gofio y el Agua has been considered a Festival of National Tourist Interest since 2002.
In addition to the most popular festivities within the Canarian traditions, to learn more about the culture of the islands it is essential to know the sports and games of the Canary Islands. Let’s get to know 3 of the most typical sports practiced in the Canary Islands:
In this game the ball is thrown in order to get as close as possible to the colored ball. The match ends when one of the two teams reaches twelve points. They can play as many participants as they want.
It is the sport of reference in Canarian traditions. It consists of two wrestlers who face each other on a circular terrain of 15 to 17 meters. They must knock each other down with techniques called “tricks”. A wrestler will be considered defeated when with any part of the body that touches the ground, except the sole of the foot, the idea is to unbalance the opponent.
This Canarian custom is called “jump of the shepherd” or “canary jump” because with a thin, long and robust pole the jumpers move through uneven terrain or with steep slopes. It is quite a dangerous activity and requires a lot of control of the body and being in a good physical condition in general.
If you want to enjoy these Canarian traditions and don’t know where to stay, the Lopesan Group has incredible vacation deals so you can make a dream getaway to the Canary Islands and soak up all its rich and extensive culture.
Do not hesitate to contact us if you want to know more about our services.