The entire city, stage of processions and respectful silence during the previous days, is full of excitement Resurrection Sunday. The Confraternity of the Bollu offers the solemn mass in the church of San Nicolás de Bari. Then the proclamation and the beginning of a surprising parade of decorated chariots by citizen associations; children dressed in regional costumes, giant and bigheaded, bands and folk groups. The street is a show constant waiting anxiously the next day.
A Monday to the sound, a city that eats in the streets
Monday could also be a big day. In Avilés it is the day of the week chosen to celebrate the arrival of spring and shelve the fast of Lent and the rigorous silence of Holy Week. A unique formula that consists of an outdoor fellowship meal. It has been practiced from 1993, appealing to the rural spirit of jira and romería, the people of Avilés quickly adopted the party and since then the expectations overflow. With much desire to have fun, the whole city participates and in the process renews its traditions. The acceptance in the region is total. The figures for citizen participation speak for themselves: close to 5.000 meters reach the rows of tables arranged in the streets for the multitudinous food, more than 20.000 diners they sit in them and the confectionery guild sells more than 6 tons of traditional Easter bun, which is the centennial emblem of the party. The good neighborly coexistence gains followers, year after year, in this gigantic and tasty tablecloth that is the historic center of the village. The youngest go to the city parks as a gang and choose prau as a place to eat. Peñas are created for the occasion, which sit next to those already created: cultural, sports, social and other associations. At the last moment there are always people who come asking if there is a place, especially tourists. And "there is room" even if a pin does not fit. The entire city has left home and enjoys the role of hostess.
The sites for diners are decided by strict order of registration, and once the seat is obtained, the food arrives. Everyone brings it from home in baskets and tuppers: potato omelettes, empanadas, steaks ... there will always be someone who remembers the dessert and there is no lack of cider and / or wine. Nobody is left without eating since a great fabada is cooked in the busy Plaza de España. More than 3000 rations for all those who have not been sufficiently foresighted. You can nibble at a table, continue with the dessert in another, drink your coffee in a different one and everything without anyone taking you for a profit. Then comes a desktop without haste, a nap, and the charangas come back, the fanfares by the streets, the corals of habaneras, the Asturian tune and, already at night, the verbena and the fireworks.
The bollu is the king
The celebration itself dates from the late nineteenth century and in the 20th century it was declared a Festival of National Tourist Interest. Homenajea al bollu, that shortbread biscuit, with the shape of a four leaf clover or superimposed stars, forming a castle and bathed in icing sugar; decorated with paper flowers and other motifs, such as traditional chicks. A sweet present that godparents and godmothers offer that day to their godchildren, thanking them for giving them the blessed palm of Palm Day. The particular history of this sweetened bread dates back to the 18th century, when the Asturians began to make the Americas. They carried among their provisions buns made with wheat flour, cow butter, eggs; Buns that had the property of hardening and keeping for a long time without mold. Before evolving to the current mantecado, the 2 of April of 1893, several girls dressed in white walk in old horse-drawn carriages in the center of Avilés. In the cart they carry buns and white wine that is distributed among the attendees. Then there is a party with a bagpipe and a drum. This is the first Fiesta de El Bollu, founded by the brotherhood of Dr. Claudio Luanco as a prologue to the arrival of spring. The white girls of that time are, nowadays, the Xana, the Xanina and the Ladies of Honor of the celebration.
At present, after the chupinazo of the party on Easter Sunday, Avilés is a constant bustle of activities. Pottery fairs, ballet performances, theater, monographic competitions, music festivals, monologues, bagpipers, tournaments and championships of all conditions ...
If you can ask for an extra day of vacation at Easter, do not miss the most festive Monday. One thing is that we tell you about it and quite another that you live it.
Text: © Ramón Molleda for asturias.com