Religion and parties are all mixed up in Spain and there is no better example than “El Rocío”. It is officially a Pentecost pilgrimage. In reality, it is a surreal mass of humanity and horses, polka dots and alcohol, singing in the name of the Virgin Mary, who in this case, is named Rocío.
The official descriptions refer to it as a traditional festival of brotherhoods formed to honor the Virgin. They talk about groups of believers carrying their beloved Virgin from house to house in a tiny country town. What is hard to imagine is that it packs over a million people and 100,000 horses in a scene out of a western movie. Not that you can see anything through the crowd.
After four days of singing, clapping and drinking, the key moment is spontaneous. The drunken mass packs into the chapel and attempts to contain itself until sunrise. At some point in the middle of the night the booze relgious ecstasy takes over. The crowd charges, throwing themselves and each other over the barricades. They duke it out to win a spot carrying Rocío out of the chapel through the streets while millions cheer them on.
This drunken brawl to carry a golden doll is national news. Those who can’t attend are glued to the TV to watch the crowd seeth. People take bets to see how long the faithful can wait to attack. Both these videos are from national news station coverage, complete with sports league type commentators.
So, are you doing anything interesting to celebrate Pentecost?