Canarian Folklore: November And Saint Andrew

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November 30 is the day of Saint Andrew, one of the Saint more revered in our island. This post is a little homage to him, and to the folklore traditions around his worship in Tenerife, because both Fernando and I are tied to him through our families.

In Puerto De La Cruz, the city where I was born, and were my maternal granndparents lived, Saint Andrew’s feast was celebrated with a tradition named Correr Los Cacharros (Running With The Pots/Tins), which consisted in gathering old tins and pots, tie them to a rope, and run around the cobblestone streets of the town. I participated several years when I was a child, and it was so much fun – it’s one of my most treasured childhood memories. If you know a bit about older magical traditions, I’m sure you have already made the connection – making loud noises, specially by children, is a custom in many places in the world to send away evil spirits and negative entities.

In the town of Icod De Los Vinos, in the north of the island, we have the tradition of the Tablas De San Andrés (Planks Of Saint Andrew). The town is quite famous for its extremely steep streets; on the eve of Saint Andrew’s feast, the fearless Icodenses*  get to the higher point of those streets, armed only with a greased plank of wood, and using it as a seat, just launch themselves down a very, very dangerous race.  Sometimes, they do that in small groups, with three or four racers in the same plank. There is no way of braking, so racers just crash at the bottom of the street on a huge pile of old tires… and survive :D.

*Icodense means citizen of Icod.

The very brave Icodenses :)

San Andrés is also the name of the town where Fernando was born and lived with his family, and where we lived our first two years as a couple. This small town by the sea, which was once the home of Guanche Mencey** Beneharo, has the tiniest and loveliest church dedicated to him (along with Saint Lucia); November is a whole month of special events in the name of the Saint – special masses in his honour, events to showcase folkloric music groups, a procession, and of course, a good ol’ verbena***.

** Mencey was the title given to the Guanche Kings/Chiefs.

*** A verbena is an open-air dance, usually made in the town’s biggest square. It includes live music (traditional and contemporary alike), and food and drinks are sold.

The lovely and tiny church dedicated to the Apostle in the town of San Andrés.

All around the islands, Saint Andrew’s day also marks the date when the new wine is sold; roasted chestnuts, grilled fish and boiled sweet potatoes and yam are the most common food at local festivities. Being a patron of fishermen, and thus of coastal towns, the celebrations usually include maritime events, where fishermen deck their boats with flowers, flags and strings of lights, and parade together near the shore at dusk, usually with one of the boats carrying a statue of the Saint.

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