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Lord Of The Turnips
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This Spanish Town Pelts A Monster With Turnips During The Jarramplas Festival
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You could never accuse Spain of being dull. Every January on Saint Sebastian Day in the city of Piornal, a man dons the colorful armor of the devil-like folk character Jarramplas, grabs a drum, and walks down the city's cobblestone alleys as residents pelt him with turnips.

The turnip storm continues until the masked man gives up -- but that could take a while. It's a point of pride to see how long someone can last as Jarramplas, so much so that parents in Spain's Cáceres province sign their children up at birth for a spot on the 20-year-long waiting list.

Given the fanfare, you'd think the Jarramplas Festival origin story is pretty solidified. It's not: All we know is that today, modern folklore says the turnip-pelting tradition symbolizes the expulsion of everything evil from the town. Other origin theories range from an interpretation of the myth of Hercules and the cattle-thieving giant Cacus, to the still-begrudged ostracizing of a more recent cattle thief.

Whatever its origins, the ceremony has become massive, using more than 22 tons of turnips every year. But while there may be more turnips nowadays, the pelting used to hurt worse: For centuries, residents threw tons of potatoes instead. And this was before modern protective gear even existed.


Next, read why this tiny little region in Spain keeps getting by space junk, before taking an inside look at La Tomatina, Spain’s bizarre tomato-throwing festival.

Michael Gardiner
Based in NYC. Tips and Hints: [email protected]
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