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Leisure and Culture

The Festival of San Anton

two dogs and one in the background
Written by Daniella

Every January 17 they celebrate Vueltas de San Antón in Madrid, and this festival is an homage to San Antonio Abad and focuses on his parish between Calle de Fuencarral and Calle de Hortaleza.

This fiesta is one of the most anticipated festivities of the year, both by children and adults. The festival originates from medieval times, but celebrations have changed a bit over the years.

If you would like to know more about Vueltas de San Antón, keep on reading this article by ShMadrid.

Related article: Greatest Celebrations in Madrid

Vueltas de San Antón, a lesser known festival in Madrid

boy holding cat

Photo via Pixabay

If you want to learn about the fiesta’s origin, then you have to start with the person of San Antonio Abad. He led a simple life, and he was devoted to nature. After a while, the saint started to bless plants and animals.

After his death, San Antonio Abad was declared the protector of domestic animals. They say that he once healed a wild boar and its young from being blind.

From that moment on, animals followed him wherever he went, and they protected him from other wild animals. And that is why you often see a pig at his feet when you see him on pictures.

The festival, however, has not always been linked with the name of San Antonio, because we know that the first celebrations took place in medieval times.

At that time it was called “cerdo del Concejo” (council pig), and this was a very popular tradition in the agricultural sector based on the care of pigs, but not long afterward the festival was connected to San Antonio Abad. Nowadays, the festival is no longer associated with livestock, as it has adapted to modern times.

Madrid’s San Antón festival has now turned into a celebration for the protection of animals, and it aims at raising awareness among the population to adopt abandoned animals.

Related article: The History of Madrid’s Chueca Neighbourhood

grey puppy

Photo via Pixabay

This year’s festivities take place on Friday, January 17, but starting the day before, there are several traditional activities: you can buy the local biscuits (called panecillos de San Antón) for example, and there are a  pet parade and charity market at Plaza de Chueca in the neighbourhood of Chueca.

On the official day of celebration, between 10:00 and 20:00h, animal blessings take place at the Church of San Anton. During these hours, you can visit the church with your pet and have it blessed.

The funny thing is that you can see all kinds of animals during the day, from cats and dogs, to fish, ducks and guinea pigs, but even snakes and iguanas.

The blessing is very simple and goes as follows: “Que Dios bendiga a este animal y a su dueño. Que San Antonio les proteja.” (May God bless this animal and its owner. May Saint Anthony protect them both.”)

This will be followed by a High Mass, but in the afternoon, there will also be the so-called “Vueltas de San Antón”. This is a parade, and it will start at 17:30h. The Solemn Mass will begin at 19:00h on that same day.

To celebrate the fiesta in style, many vegan and vegetarian restaurants offer lovely tapas during these days. The restaurants are all over Madrid’s districts, and you can find their culinary menu on their website.

Will you go to the Church of San Anton to have your pet blessed?

About the author

Daniella

Daniella loves to write and translate. Her bucket list is filled with beautiful places she still needs to visit.

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