Fiesta of Sant Antoni Abat
Fiestas of Sant Antoni Abat, Valencia
This is the main fiesta of the Valencian town of Canals, in honour of its patron saint. It is held every year on the 16th, 17th (the feast of Saint Anthony the Great) and 18th of January, and is notable for its giant bonfire and the day of the “parells”.
An enormous bonfire (“la foguera”) is burned in honour of the saint on 16 January, but preparations start on 7 December when the townspeople begin piling up firewood. In fact, the bonfire is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest bonfire.The religious celebrations are held on 17 January. And finally, 18 January is the day of the “parells”, when specially chosen groups of celebrants or “festeros” ride through the streets on horseback handing out thousands of toys, and people enjoy the traditional dishes of the fiesta such as “pastas de San Antonio”, ending with a meal of rice casseroles for thousands of people. This fiesta has been held since the mid-17th century, when it was begun to thank the patron saint for protecting the town from an earthquake.
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