The festival of Sant Antoni in Ascó has been recognized as a Heritage Festival of National Interest by the Catalan government since 2010 and preserves traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation for many years.
It is considered to be Ascó’s biggest winter festival and takes place during the weekend closest to January 17. The celebration is dedicated to Sant Antoni, the patron saint of animals. Although this festival is celebrated in other neighboring villages, Ascó has managed to preserve a series of aspects and symbols that make it unique.
The organizers: the Clavari and the Majorals
The Clavari and the two Majorals, together with the priest, are in charge of organizing the festival, preparing the program and ensuring that everything runs smoothly. Their role is essential, based on commitment and dedication. The figure of these three protagonists appears referenced since 1739 and has been maintained since then.
Firewood collection and plega
The festival begins with the collection of firewood that locals leave at the doorsteps of their houses and which is used to fuel a big bonfire in the main square. The plega (collection of money) also takes place in the streets of the town, which were used to cover the expenses of the festival in the past.
The second day of the festival begins early in the morning with the Tres Tombs, when locals meet in the main square (plaça de l’Església) and follow an itinerary through the village with their animals. The procession is headed by the Clavari and the two Majorals and there is a stop at the Clavari’s house to get the statue of the Saint (that has been kept there during the whole year). The procession ends in front of the church, where the priest blesses the animals and gives them the blessed bread. This is another example of the devotion and faith of locals towards the Saint, since there is a belief that the animals must be blessed to be able to participate in the races and to not get hurt throughout the year.
Mass in honor of Sant Antoni
Afterwards, a mass is held in honor of Sant Antoni and there is another procession where the statue of the Saint is moved from the church to the house of the new Clavari, who invites everyone to a breakfast. Have you already visited Ascó during the Sant Antoni Festival? If you want to know more about the festival, here are two more articles that you might like: Sant Antoni Festival in Ascó: Animal Races and Traditional Games and Sant Antoni Festival: the Social and Festive Side.