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León (Spain) bets for the ‘antruejos’, its most traditional carnivals

León apuesta por los ‘antruejos’, sus carnavales más tradicionales
The Council of León carries out, since 2014, an exhibition of an important part of the most traditional carnivals of the province, the ‘antruejos’, in which young people play an essential role.

Just before than the Christian world begins the Lent –the time to prepare to the Easter–, streets become in a scene in which people show their most festive spirit…


Children, youngsters and adults alike enjoy in these days in which disguises, clothes and masks which are characteristics, are the protagonists. They are the carnivals [en], in which the Tuesday –Ash Wednesday’s eve– is generally its most important day.


In León (Spain), as in some other places, is organized an extensive program of activities to ‘live’ them intensively. And one of their main activities is the parade which goes over the streets of the city which, time ago, were organized precisely in the Tuesday’s evening; but since a few years takes place, and with a good acceptance, the Saturday before.


So, in 2014, the Council of León [en] wanted to carry out a big event on Tuesday of Carnival, and bet for a parade which every year has a bigger participation: the Leonese ‘antruejos’.


The Leonese ‘antruejos’

Under the name of ‘antruejos’ [es] are included some millennial celebrations which are carried out in different places of the Leonese geography, and are even known with different names: antruejo, antruido, entroido…


They combine the most traditional culture with influences, for sure, of ancient samples of religiousness, and they have to do with rites of agricultural and livestock societies, related to ward evil off and to get good for lands and people.


The ‘antruejos’ are masquerades [es] –the protagonists usually wear masks which generally represent the evil or some animal– with a pre-Roman origin, although they will be romanized first and later Christianized, when ones and others gain power. And, though they arrive to the present time around the Carnival, they are basically related to the arrival of winter, when the night disputes the hegemony to the very same sun; which, inside the mentality of our ancestors, it would be a time, at least, of uncertainty…


The protagonists use cowbells or handbells ringing nonstop and they produce some disorder among the people when using different tools, like pliers or sticks, throwing ash…


The role of young people

Young people have always played an essential role in the ‘antruejos’, because they are in charge of representing the characters and, besides, it is like a rite of passage for them.


But, in addition, some of these masquerades had got lost over time, and in the last years there is being an important recovery thanks to, principally, youngsters, organized in different associations which, at the same time, had founded the Federation of ‘Antruejos’ “Kingdom of León” [es], which begins to take its first steps.


The Tuesday of Carnival, León was witness in 2017 of nine masquerades of the province [es]: zafarronada omañesa, zamarrones of Riaño, Antruejos of Veilla de la Reina, Jurrus and Castrones of Alija del Infantado, the Masquerade of Winter of La Cuesta (La Cabrera), Antruejos of Cimanes del Tejar, Antruejos of Carrizo de la Ribera, Antruejos of El Bierzo and the Traditional Carnival of Santa Olaja de Eslonza. It was a good sample which may increase in the future, because there are more ‘antruejos’ in other Leonese places… and a desire in León to know other samples of its culture.


Xuasús González, Eurodesk Qualified Multiplier, León