For those of you who enjoy taking in a little Spanish culture during your holidays, I highly recommend you take a couple of hours this Saturday (16th July) to go and see one of the many “Virgen del Carmen” processions taking place along the Coast.
Last year I went along to the Virgen del Carmen procession in Los Boliches – just a 15 minute drive from the hotel – and thoroughly enjoyed the experience (follow the link to the blog post I wrote).
I won’t provide a long winded explanation of what this day represents – you can see this post about the Virgen del Carmen celebrations for that – but I will quickly explain a little about the reason for this colourful and emotional event.
The Virgen del Carmen, or Stella Maris, as she is often referred to is the patron saint of fishermen and of the Spanish Navy! If you visit one of the processions which take place in most of the “traditional” fishing villages along the Coast – Los Boliches, Benalmádena,La Carrihuelain Torremolinos, Marbella and Estepona, to name but a few – you will witness the pure devotion the local villagers towards their patron saint.
The processions usually start off in the afternoon as the fishermen carry their “Virgen” – which is usually handcrafted in wood and porcelain – from the local church where she is rests throughout the year, to the sea. The Virgen del Carmen is accompanied on this journey by a multitude of devout followers, this is, after all, a deep rooted religious tradition.
As she is paraded through the streets, a marching band plays music which is often drowned out by the sound of her followers shouting “Guapa, guapa” (which means beautiful).
Make sure you don’t miss the highlight of the procession: the magical moment when the fishermen carry the “Virgen” into the sea and onto a boat which will then “set sail” with their patron saint onboard. Expect an amazing array of lights, flowers, candles, and even fireworks which make this event truly memorable.