Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fiesta de Las Marías

Esta noche no alumbra
La farola del mar,
Esta noche no alumbra
Porque no tiene gas...*

The Third Sunday of every September the townsfolk of Santa María de Guía , or Guía for short, celebrate La Rama de las Marías. The Virgen María of the town, dressed in green silk and brocade, is carried out of the church and carried through the town in homage, before returning her to the church.

This celebration commemorates when, in the 18th century, the town and surrounding area were devastated by a plague of locusts. To rid themselves of the locusts, the locals fervently prayed to the Virgen María that she would rid them of this blight, and, according to legend, she did. The island festival begins and ends by the blowing of conch shells.

The town, elaborately decorated with palm branches, fruits, gourds and all sorts of island produce, shares local rum, cheese, cooked and baked goods and more with each other and bystanders, like us.

Guía is famous for its queso de flor, or flower cheese.

A beautiful day, bright with colour, song and joyous goodwill to all.

* An Isa, a type of song and dance most characteristic of the Canary Islands. Google the first line and you can listen to a sampling. My own video didn't turn out. Musically speaking, the Isa is part played and part sung, begun by four lines or chords followed by instrumental accompaniment. It's a happy chant sung in parades during the "stops." There are endless varieties of the basic theme in the Islands because it's a genre that allows a lot of improvisation and lots of melodic and rhythmic assimilation.

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