Festivals & Traditions
In February, the Carnival appears in Sobrarbe as every year, bringing festivals and debauchery under the masks and the fancy dresses, full of ancient symbols and traditions. In this county, this ritual merges history and fun to hold a festivity that remains unalterable after the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist banning, preserving its popular flavour.
The carnival says goodbye to winter months of snow, cold and darkness, and it welcomes the spring which brings life back.
During the long winter, souls are lost, and the Carnival is the proper moment to help them find their path towards afterlife, bringing the necessary fertility to earth, animals and humans for the rest of the year. In order to deserve this blessing, living people should start the new season being pure, without sins or vices, as individuals as well as a group.
Therefore, negative aspects are personified in a traditional character, constituting the core of the festivity, who is tried and sentenced to death penalty, taking with him people's bad habits to the tomb.
Its origin likely reaches back to pre-Christian times, to ancient farming and hunting societies, whose traditions survived in the Roman Saturnalia. Later, after the western Christianization, the Carnival became a time devoted to excess before fasting during Lent.
The Carnival is also a reversion of everyday life, of the accepted hierarchy and, thus, it was often a celebration sanctioned by the religious and civil power, since this celebration, mainly popular, entails a strong criticism against society, politicians and church hierarchy. Besides, everyone remains anonymous behind the masks and the permissive behaviour allowed during the festivity.
Many villages in Sobrarbe have preserved this tradition through the characters and symbols of this festival, which remains though being adapted to the present times. There are also many references to those carnivals currently disappeared, such as the ones held in Jánovas, Boltaña or Broto, and to other celebrations which have been recovered during the last decade, of great ethnologic value.
But fun, dancing and enjoying the Carnival's magic is the most important thing in all of them.