Festivities in Yecla (Murcia)

Next week (5th until 9th of December) starts the annual festivities of Our Lady of the Castle in Yecla (Murcia, Spain). part of these festivities are gachasmigas offered by the stewards of the blocks (November 9). This year one of the Butler is José Francisco Navarro Ibáñez.

Preparing a Gachasmigas
On the photograph: “Preparing a Gachasmigas, special Yecla dough meal.

Bit of historical

The celebration in honour to the Virgen del Castillo (or Lady of the Castle) of Yecla has a long tradition. It was July 17th, 1642, during the War of Catalonia, when a handful, 61 to be more accurate, Yeclanos where requested to defend the country and join the army led by Martin Soriano Zaplana. When they reached Catalonian Vinerós, confrontation was already over and after half a year more in the barracks, the Yeclanos did not have to participate at the front and returned back to Yecla without any casualties nor injured. After returning these Yeclanos rose to the virgins shrine, a sanctuary not only to Yeclanos, to thank the local patroness “La virgen de la Encarnación”. Since then Yeclanos held every year around the beginning of December a parade in honour of the patron saint of Yecla, “la Virgen del Castillo”. During the festivities Yeclanos dressed up as musketeers, accompany this landlady, a symbol of protection , from the chapel in the hills out side of Yecla to the Basilica of the Immaculate in the center of the village, under salvos of arcabuces (or muskets) by firing shots in her honour, flooding gunpowder over the entire city of Yecla.

Stewards sausages in Yecla

On the photograph: Preparing the stewards sausages in Yecla

Clans of Musketeers

Throughout history the Yeclanos have enriched the festival in honor of the Virgin of the Castle of Yecla with new acts such as the Offering of Flowers. Furthermore you have the traditional gachasmigas (Typical regional dough mails) of the Butlers (or stewards) from the various clans around the 9th of November from which you can see here several photos. This year there was a record of 100 pans on the traditional area out site the city of Yecla where hundreds of people prepared these typical gachasmigas.

Jose Puche Butler of the festivities 2014

On the photograph: Jose Puche on of the festivities Butler for 2014

Men in Black

On the December feast, all members wear the prescribed uniform black hat, pants and bow tie of the same color and a white shirt. The Butlers</ strong>, represent the Captain Martin Soriano Zaplana and the flag carries of the Company. The musketeers, the rest of the company, carry the gunpowder filled up weapons for salvos. These musket like weapons have a brass nozzle shaped open crown and cylinder head, crafted into a timber holder.

The most pure drinking wine

On the photograph: The most typical way of drinking wine in the region

The traditional gachasmigas

While it seems easy, you have to know as how to prepare the traditional gachasmigas. to start with you need a large pan which is placed (usually done on a fire, in the field as shown in the photographs)on a campfire. Than you fry some olive oil and garlic sausages. When well browned all, you add flour and stir it around. When is is all well mixed together, you add water and salt to that. Stir well until a paste is left. When the pasta is in its point then turns it around and browned it on the other side. When well browned and cooked inside it is removed from the fire and served with a chunk of bread, sausage and a good wine, in this case from Yecla, like from the winery “la Purisima” .

Fleet Rear The Moon Yecla
On the photograph: The table of the squad “Retaguardia Los Lunas” from Yecla

National Interest</ strong>

In 2002 this event obtained the title of being of National Interest, 311 years after the Brotherhood (1691) of the Castle Virgin was founded. Between 5 and 8 December, a number of very traditional events take place in and around the city of Yecla:

The 5th of December

  • Welcome – Festivities officially start for the squads representing the Yecla army

The 6th of December

  • Kissing the Flag – a traditional act to honor the virgin</ li>.
  • Mass of Musketeers – an early morning Mass</ li>

The 7th of December

  • La Alborada – At dawn of the 7th hundreds of musketeers start to the climb to the sanctuary</ li>.
  • Offering of Flowers – It is one of the most attended events offering flowers to the virgin</ li>

The 8th of December

  • Day of the Virgin – This is the big day, celebrated High Mass at the Basilica and a solemn procession with the virgin. More than five hundred musketeers accompany the Immaculate during a parade.

Interview Jose Navarro Ibáñez - Tele Yecla
Interview Jose Navarro Ibáñez by Tele Yecla

Interview Jose Navarro Ibáñez - Tele Yecla
Interview Jose Navarro Ibáñez by Tele Yecla

Photos: Interviewed by Tele Yecla Jose Puche Rubio (Butler festivities 2014) and Jose Francisco Navarro Ibáñez (Butler festivities 2014)

The “Pregoneros”

Another highlight during the festivities in Yecla is the pregón or traditional speech. The “pregonero” (or speaker) most known, to date, is D. Pedro José Navarro Ibanez Speaker from the year 2008. Don Pedro, journalist from Yecla, has always been tied to the traditional “Fiestas de la Virgen”. Being son of Yeclanos, he has been part of the “Los Lunas”squad like his great grandfather Pedro, his grandfather, his son and his father Blas, who have preceded him in this squad. Through this link you can download his proclamation (Spanish) of the year 2008. The stewards of butlers of this year event are, José Francisco Navarro Ibáñez, a cousin of Don Pedro, as was the steward of last year, Juan Navarro Ibañez, also brother of the current steward. They are all members of the squad “”Los Luna””.

Photos of the gachamigas event

Here are some more pictures.

Planada where they prepare the gachasmigas in Yecla
Area where they prepare the gachasmigas in Yecla

The tables prepared for the gachasmigas in Yecla
The tables prepared for las gachasmigas in Yecla

Traditional gachasmigas of butlers in Yecla
The traditional gachasmigas of the butlers in Yecla

Jose Puche Rubio his gun
Jose Puche Rubio firering with his musket

Let’s see if we see each other in Yecla from the 5th till de 8th of December.