La Tomatina in 2014
|Official name||La Tomatina|
|Observed by||Buñol, Valencia, Spain|
|Date||Last Wednesday in August|
|2015 date||August 26|
|2016 date||August 31|
|2017 date||August 30|
|2018 date||August 29|
La Tomatina (Spanish pronunciation: [la tomaˈtina]) is a festival that is held in the Valencian town of Buñol, a town located in the East of Spain 30 km / 19 miles from the Mediterranean, in which participants throw tomatoes and get involved in this tomato fight purely for entertainment purposes. Since 1945 It has been held on the last Wednesday of August, during the week of festivities of Buñol.
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The tomato fight (or La Tomatina) has been a strong tradition in Buñol since 1944 or 1945. Unfortunately, while no one is completely certain how this event originated, but there is one popular theory is that disgruntled townspeople rioted and attacked city councilmen with tomatoes during a town celebration. Whatever did happen to begin the tradition, it was enjoyed so much that it was repeated the next year, and the year after that, and so on. Other theories include a food fight among friends, a juvenile class war between bare-footed Trotskyist macarras and upper class pijos from Madrid on summer vacation, a volley of tomatoes from bystanders at a carnival parade, a democratic protest against the city council and the ensuing aftermath of an accidental truck spillage. The holiday was banned in the Spanish State period under Francisco Franco for having no religious significance, but returned in the 1970s after his demise. In 1957, demand for the popular festival led to its becoming official, with certain rules and restrictions. These rules have gone through many modifications over the years.
Another important landmark in the history of this festival is the year 1975. From this year onward, "Los Clavarios de San Luis Bertrán" (San Luis Bertrán is the patron of the town of Buñol) organized the whole festival and brought in the tomatoes, which had previously been brought by the local people. Soon after this, in 1980, the town council took over responsibility for organizing the festival.
Since then, the number of participants has increased year after year as well as the excitement about La Tomatina Festival. In 2002, in the month of August La Tomatina of Buñol was declared a Festivity of International Tourist Interest by the Secretary Department of Tourism due to its success. In 2013, town officials introduced an entry fee and limited the number of participants, citing concerns over safety.
Usually, the fight lasts for an hour, after which the whole town square has been covered with tomato paste. Fire trucks then hose down the streets and participants often use hoses that locals provide to remove the tomato paste from their bodies. Some participants go to the pool of “los peñones” to wash. Afterwards, the village cobblestone streets are completely clean due to the acidity of the tomato disinfecting and thoroughly cleaning the surfaces.
Since 2013, the capacity of La Tomatina is regulated by selling tickets for the event, a measure that "guarantees the sustainability of the party, better security and [more] fun for the attenders [sic]”. In 2015, it is estimated that almost 145000 kg of tomatoes were thrown. As with previous years, participants of many nationalities are expected.
Rules of the festival
The city council follows a short list of instructions for the safety of the participants and the festival:
- The tomatoes have to be squashed before throwing to avoid injuries.
- No other projectiles except tomatoes are allowed.
- Participants have to make way for trucks and lorries.
- After the second shot indicative of ending the tomato hurl, no tomatoes should be thrown.
In other countries
La Tomatina Buñol has inspired similar celebrations in other parts of the world:
- Since 1982, the town of Twin Lakes, Lake County, Colorado has held a tomato fight called the "Colorado Texas Tomato War," in which Texans and Coloradans square off. The Coloradans also attempt to overtake the Texans' straw Alamo effigy, generally succeeding.
- Since 2004 the Colombian town of Sutamarchán holds a similar event on 15 June when a surplus of tomatoes is harvested.
- In Costa Rica the town of San José de Trojas (Valverde Vega Canton) celebrates a Tomatina during the local Tomato Fair.
- In the town of Dongguan in southern Guangdong province in China, a tomato fight is held on October 19, during which they use up to 15 tons of tomatoes.
- The City of Reno, Nevada in the United States also has an annual hour-long tomato fight that started in 2009. The event seems to take place on the last Sunday of August and is organized by the American Cancer Society. Organizers named the festival La Tomatina, and give full credit for the idea to the Spanish festival.
- In the Indian state of Karnataka, the Karnataka Government banned the hosting of such a Tomatina event in Bangalore and Mysore, after private organizers tried to organize one. Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda is quoted as saying: "In the name of 'La Tomatina' festival, permission should not be granted to waste tomatoes". A similar event planned in Delhi was cancelled after it received negative response from the public. 
- Milwaukee's East Side Association holds an annual Tomato Romp during September in coordination with a Bloody Mary drink contest. Held since at least 2009 it is limited to 250 people in a caged-in area.
- Funtasia Island, Patna hosted a similar La tomatina Holi event on March 26, 2013 at Funtasia Water Park in Patna, India.
In popular culture
- The festival was re-created for the song "Ik Junoon (Paint It Red)" from the 2011 Bollywood film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.
- The opening scene of the film We Need to Talk About Kevin depicts the character Eva attending La Tomatina.
- Battle of the Oranges, similar traditional festival in Ivrea, Italy
- Fiestas of International Tourist Interest of Spain
- Running of the Bulls
- "Spanish austerity comes to tomato-throwing festival". The Financial Times.
- Mullins, Deirdre. "La Tomatina". RTE.
- Harris, Jenn (August 28, 2013). "La Tomatina festival: 20,000 people, 130 tons of tomatoes, 1 big mess". The Los Angeles Times.
- "La Tomatina". The Taste of Spain.
- "The Rules of Tomatina Festival". Tomatina.
- Galván, Javier A. (June 19, 2014). They Do What? A Cultural Encyclopedia of Extraordinary and Exotic Customs from around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia of Extraordinary and Exotic Customs from around the World. ABC-CLIO. pp. 309–. ISBN 978-1-61069-342-4.
- "Bangalore's Tomatina festival cancelled". NDTV 24x7. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- Splash of La Tomatina adds to park revelry - Funmakers get drenched in tomatoes instead of gulal ahead of festival Calcutta Telegraph. Retrieved Mar 27, 2013
- "Abhay Deol goes topless!". Hindustan Times. 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-29.
- "Check out: Hrithik, Katrina, Farhan & Abhay shooting for Tomatina fest in Spain". Bollywoodhungama.com. 2011-03-19. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
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