When we think of Tenerife, 9 times out of 10 the words sun, sand and party will be at the forefront of people’s minds. Let me give you an insight of the ‘local life’ and show you just how the natives of this amazing Island, celebrate and come together for their folklore fiestas and romerias.
When it comes to setting the standards for a folklore festival, Tenerife are leaders in this field! We can all learn a thing or two on how to be part of a joyous event, create unity amongst our people and enjoy civilisation as it should be. Even today’s technology doesn’t change the traditional ways of these people and it is an absolutely great feeling to be part of their celebrations.
Bailes de Magos (County dances)
If we look at the words Bailes it means ‘to dance’ and Magos means ‘peasants’. Now do not get this confused with the English terminology of peasants which we use in a totally different context, the Canarian meaning is more in line with the land, farming and agricultural people.
Tenerife is split up with towns, just like any other country and each town will have their own style and colour type outfit for the romeria (different coloured stripes on a skirt from another town, is a typical style). This gives people an identity and recognition of their local homeland.
You will see many locals visiting romerias and in their type of outfit or a traditional dress code but if they wanted to be included in their local romeria dance parade, they must have their town ‘uniform’ type style clothing to do so.
Typical musical instruments
Whichever part of Tenerife or the Canarian Islands you visit, any romeria will consist of the same songs, tunes and musical instruments. Musicians will typically play the flute, drums, guitars and a small 4-stringed guitar called a Timple.
You may have heard the word romeria when holidaying in Tenerife or the Canary Islands and wondered what it meant or what was involved. Well, this really is a type of celebration amongst the Canarian people which take part all over the Island in different months and on an annual basis per town.
Different towns, hold different types of romerias for example, the district of Guimar, San Pedro would offer you to experience the celebration of adults and children who dance around a Maypole.
Usually, a romeria would start with the locals and visitors who would collectively stand in the streets where the procession and parade would pass by. Sometimes you may see decorated, ox-drawn carts involved or floats carrying people. All tastefully decorated with natural and exotic items such as fruits, vegetables, flowers and plants.
There is a purpose of giving, sharing and showing compassion to humanity in these events. Small tokens of food, fruit and wine are giving along the way and through the streets.
The typical type of food you could expect during any romeria celebration would be Canarian potatoes, mojo, gofio, goats cheese, bread and of course, some lovely local made wine!
Regardless of your nationality and beliefs, this is a great opportunity for you to experience some Canarian culture and soak up the fantastic atmosphere of a Tenerife folklore fiesta. Some of the fiestas go on until the early hours of the morning and people continue to dance in the streets, singing and playing music in the local towns or villages.
Depending on which romeria you attend, the scale of the celebration and people will vary. Some of the best folklore fiestas can be found in the likes of Garachio or Candelaria based in the South. In the North, you can look to attend large fiestas in Puerto de la Cruz (Corpus Christi) and Santa Barbara in Icod.
Tenerife are worldwide folklore leaders
It is, without doubt, Tenerife is one of the world leaders for romerias, local fiestas and festivals. They are experts in this field and know exactly how to put on a great traditional celebration event. Even today, folklore festivals are still widely performed and Tenerife is the heart of the International folklore music festival.
The International folklore music festival’ takes place in the 3rd week of August, every year. The place that sets the scene for this popular event is El Medano, Tenerife South. It is host to 5 Continents which come to compete in this event and Tenerife offer some of the best and toughest competition for their visitors.
This time of the year is all about family, thoughtfulness and faith to the church (amongst locals). Back in the 20th century, Fermin Cedres, a Tenerife composer wrote the song Lo Divino which is still widely sung today during the Navidad season.
You can listen to this beautiful carol/hymn on Youtube Lo Divino
Youtube Video – Los Sabandenos. En la Plaza de la concepcion de La Laguna en el concierto de Navidad 2013.
Throughout the year, local musicians practice hard for the romerias, sometimes travelling to other Islands to represent Tenerife. Below is a photo of the romeria group based in Los Cristianos.
Amazing culture & people
Over the years, I feel blessed to have been introduced and to have been part of this culture. Eating, drinking and attending such events has allowed me to feel part of their life. To me, Tenerife is not about the sun, sand and parties but it strikes a cord in my heart for the people who make this Island an identity of respect for their culture and romerias.
People of good faith, friendly smiles and warmth in their hearts. You will always be welcome to join in and they truly appreciate the tourists who visit their land.
It is the people of Tenerife and their big hearts that show us how a proper romeria should be done! With their expert knowledge, traditions and experience, Tenerife is streaks ahead of other countries when it comes to folklore music, dancing and celebrations.
Next time you are in Tenerife, find out if there are any folklore fiestas and call along to watch the parade. It is great for your children to experience another culture and understand how things are still traditionally done.
Thank You/Muchas Gracias Juana Dominguez Perez who provided me with some of the photographs for this blog and who is a dear friend to me.
Thank You/Muchas Gracias Tenerife familia y amigos who have continued to always welcome me into their homes, hearts and lives. Your love and friendship will live with me forever. (Besos)