Fiestas de Mayo: The Spanish cities with the most popular ones

"Spring quickens the blood", goes the well-known saying.

Without a doubt, spring has that special something and in almost all regions it is commemorated with May festivities, an ancestral tradition where folklore, music and dance come together.  

Spring is when everything blooms... and apparently also love, because when the 'mayos' began to be celebrated, single young men and women sought, with these festive rituals, to get married.

Today, the May festivities have been assimilated by Christianity, with symbols such as the May Cross and the veneration of the town's patron saint. However, each region puts its own distinctive stamp on it and what they call 'el mayo' has different meanings depending on the locality.

These are the Spanish cities with the most popular "Los Mayos".

 

The 'Ronda de Mayo' of Ciudad Real

It is called Manchego May Festival and is held in the municipality of Pedro Muñoz in Ciudad Real. It begins on the April 30th when 'los mayos' gather to sing to the ladies of the town who are elected each year, visiting house by house in what is known as "la ronda del mayo" (the round of May). There is food, zurras (a drink) and songs offered to the patron saint of the village, Virgen of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles.

But it doesn't end there! The following day, the National Folklore Festival is held, with typical dances and gastronomic tastings to sample the typical products of these lands.  

Fiestas del mayo manchego | Photograph by turismocastillalamancha.es

 

La Rondalla of Santa Cruz de la Zarza

In this town in Toledo, the May festivities begin on the night of April 30th, when the first May is sung to the Virgen del Rosario, and continue with the 'rondallas', groups that go around the town with guitars, lutes and bandurrias singing to the girls.

The old tradition of carrying a lantern was replaced by a model, which heads the rondalla and represents a prominent social or political figure of the time. Some of the pieces that are sung date back to the 17th century, which is why it has been declared a Festival of Regional Tourist Interest.

May festivities rondallas santa cruz de la zarza
Rondallas santacruceras | Photograph by santacruzdelazarza.es

 

The festivity of Las Cruces in Alhama de Murcia

In this municipality, the May festivities begin on the first days, with large altars of crosses being placed in public places such as gardens or squares, and also in private homes.

In Alhama de Murcia, 'los mayos' are rag and straw dolls, called 'peleles', which decorate the streets dramatising current events. The pieces that are sung honour women or the fertility of the earth, and especially the Virgin Mary.

The 'peleles' of Murcia | Photo by fiestadelosmayos.es

 

'La pinga del mayo' in Castile and León

In this region, several villages still perform 'la pinga del mayo' (also known as 'plantar el mayo'), which consists of placing a tall trunk, usually of poplar, on which men compete to climb and take the 'trophy' that is placed on top.

Tradition dictates that the lady or 'maya' must invite the winning man to a snack. The orchestra, which accompanies the festivities with traditional songs, is not left behind. It is offered Garnacha, a wine variety.

It starts on May 1st, at midday or in the evening, and is typically held to coincide with the town's patron saint festivities.

Pingada de mayo in Soria | Video by Angel Almazán de Gracia

 

The 'Mayos madrileños'

In the Spanish capital, the May festivities focus on cultural activities related to cinema, music, dance and gastronomy. However, in some towns such as Brea del Tajo, Colmenar Viejo, El Molar and Morata de Tajuña, the traditional street rounds, the singing of mayos, the altars of mayas, the dancing of jotas and seguidillas and the floral offerings to the Virgin are maintained.

This is this year's programme.

 

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