A picnic with Jesus

The Andalucians specialise in combining the sacred with the secular. A quintessential example of this phenomenon is Cartajima’s annual romeria, a picnic with Jesus, which was celebrated yesterday.

The original inference of romeria was a pilgrimage to Rome which was, of course, de rigueur but here in Cartajima they see no need to go so far. Just down the road and up the hill to the mirador, with its lovely view back to the village.

After a special mass, an icon of Jesus is processed out of the church, through the village, and up to the picnic spot accompanied by a coro rociero*. Duty done, they pop him in a shady hedge and get on the with dancing, dining and drinking which is why they came. Each family goes the day before to mark out their spot and erect a caseta where the family hangs out, receiving visits from other families, preparing paella and other traditional picnic fare.

After dark, Jesus is taken back to the church accompanied by fireworks, rockets, cheers and not a little shouting and laughing.

My guests who went yesterday to the picnic, commented that they felt welcomed into the relaxed and happy multigenerational party and privileged to be made unreservedly welcome. Nice. Thank you, Cartajima!

* The most famous of the Spanish romerias is El Rocio near Huelva, after which are named choirs of women, dressed in trajes de gitana (colourful, flounced dresses) singing lively sacred songs. For more information about this pilgrimage, try this