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Carnivals and other festivities.

Traditional carnival celebrations in Santa Cruz de Tenerife gain new followers every year, many of whom compare those events with the famous Copacabana festivities in Río de Janeiro. However, it is fair to note that both celebrations have their own specific characteristics as well as similarities.

It is always useful to quote Alberto Galván Tudela, a writer from Tenerife, who as a result of a deep anthropological research study about this remarkable mass event said: “it is essentially the symbolic reversal ritual par excellence, that is, a series or group of expressive behaviours reversing, contradicting, drowning or to some extent presenting an alternative to set social codes, values or standards, which means to put order and social relations the other way around”.

Some historians have found the origins of carnivals in ancient Sumer or in the festivities to pay tribute to ox Apis in ancient Egypt, though everything indicates that its origins are found in millenarian Rome. The word carnival seems to come from “carrus navalis” (naval cart), as Romans identified the ship on wheels where Baco’s priest was carried in the festivities held in honour of this mythological god, as way of a carriage, to the sound of the canticles sung by the people dressed as satyrs.

While research works continue and encourage other historians to continue searching to reveal new findings, the truth is that carnivals in Santa Cruz de Tenerife are a mass festivity, superior to any of those held in the other European Community countries.

These carnivals have been officially declared “international festivities of tourist interest” and with this long expected and fought for denomination a permanent tribute is paid to those people involved in their organization every year. Though the carnival is held throughout the island, its principal venue is Santa Cruz de Tenerife, a city which becomes a human river of dancers, masks and creative disguises. During the festivities, no one goes to sleep, neither its people nor its buildings or legendary streets and avenues, all motivated by an excellent hospitality that is multiplied by the contagious rhythm of the music constantly plaid by famous bands and singers.

In general terms, the concept of what has been said about carnivals could be expanded, because as a whole folk celebrations in Tenerife have a classic rural atmosphere.

It has been rightfully written that “romerías” are religious and pagan festivities in honour of the local patron saint. They consist of a pilgrimage with carriages, farm equipment and animals, where folklore is the main actor and the colourful and charm of different typical costumes of this cosy and fascinating island can be admired. The following are Tenerife’s holidays:

01/01- New Year

06/01 - The Three Wise Men

February / March Carnival

01/05 - Labour Day

03/05 - The Cross Day

30/05 - The Canary Islands’ Day

16/07 - Our Lady of Carmen

25/07 - Apostle Santiago

15/08 – The Assumption

12/10 - Day of Hispanism

01/11 - All Saints’ Day

06/12 - Constitutional Day

08/12 - Immaculate Conception’s Day

25/12 - Christmas



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