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On January 20th, Adeje celebrated one of the oldest fiestas in Tenerife, Saint or San Sebastián, marked in Adeje since the 16th century, in what was a holy place long before the Spanish conquest of the islands.
Thousands arrived at La Caleta to take part in the religious celebration in the church, the parade to the sea, and the traditional blessing of the animals.
The people of Adeje renewed their commitment to their patron saint on this day which also celebrates the primary sector, agriculture.
From 12 noon the official ceremonies began in what the Adeje mayor, José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga described as “the people’s fiesta”. He said that he was delighted to see “the festival for the people, for the animals, for those who have come faithfully, apart from the pandemic years, to show their devotion”.
Historically, the mayor said, this could be the oldest celebration in the south of the island of Tenerife, with the Guanches (original Tenerife aborigenes) celebrating here in this place, and following the arrival of Christianity they would have continued to do so. “This celebration is deeply rooted in our community”, he added.
The animals are part of the ‘main event’
This year 80 horses and riders registered to take part, and joining them were goats, sheep, donkeys, camels, ponies, dogs, etc., accompanied by their owners. There were different sections for the animals with enough space to keep them comfortably shaded with water and fed. The organizers also engaged a vet to guarantee their wellbeing at all times.
As is traditional, following mass, the procession brought the statue of the saint to the beach, to the water’s edge, where the horses and riders followed and entered the sea, as is tradition (all with lifeguards, police and health and safety personnel on site). Leaving the beach, the statue was brought to the zone known as El Humilladero, and then to the plaza, to oversee the blessing of all the animals by the priest.
During the whole day food and drink were available at stalls staffed by different neighborhood committees and bars and restaurants from Adeje. There was an air of celebration throughout the event, with families and friends enjoying a day out in a spirit of community coexistence, a reflection of the borough.
The first celebrations held for the saint can be traced back to the 16th century in Adeje, and it has always been linked to a celebration of the land, agriculture and farming. Many farmers and tillers from Adeje and beyond have been coming to these celebrations for centuries.
The statue of San Sebastián, normally resident in the hermitage which bears his name, was made in the Bririllo studio in Valencia and was brought to Adeje in 1916 according to a newspaper article published in la Gaceta de Tenerife in January of that year.