Fiesta de San Andres - a celebration of wine!

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La Fiesta de San Andres, or the Festival of San Andres, occurs on the 29th/30th of November. As it is connected with the production of the new season's wine, it tends to have the better celebrations in the northern wine producing areas, at such towns and villages as La Orotava, Icod de Los Vinos, Puerto de La Cruz and San Juan de La Rambla. It consists of a typical saint's day festivities, but with a couple of unique twists.

fiesta de san andres

Arrastre los Cacharros

Literally meaning "dragging the pots", this quaint (if noisy) custom has a variety of theories as to its origins.

Two of these relate to San Andres himself. One suggests that he came home late in November (all the other saints having arrived on their appointed All Saints Day, November the 1st), limping, drunk and "full of pots", making an almighty clattering sound.

Another also refers to the saint's drinking habits, stating that he arrived on the island just as the new wine was being unveiled and partook a little too enthusiatically. Subsequently falling into an drunken stupor, the children of the village tied pots and pans to his clothes, so that if he stirred in his sleep, the noise would wake him.

Another, probably more authentic, theory is that in centuries gone by, the wine production process involved washing the barrels in salt water and the villagers had no option but to roll them down to the sea. The metal rim of the barrels made a clattering sound which the Arrastre los Cacharros is attempting to reproduce today.

The event begins at a modest level, with young children running through the streets dragging a few cans tied to a piece of string.

Later on, the young men of the town join in and things, naturally, are taken up a notch. Objects dragged by now start to get bigger and can include such items as oil drums, car exhausts and washing machine drums!

Such heavy objects have to be very securely tied together and, because of the weight involved, are connected to a sort of yolk, which several youths will attempt to drag as fast as possible. There is another youth running in front to clear the way and care is taken to aim for any potholes, to increase the deafening racket. Only in Tenerife, eh?

fiesta de san andres

Arrastre de Las Tableros

This means "dragging the boards", but should more accurately be called "riding the boards". It seems to originate from the ancient practice of moving the new barrels of wine down to the sea, ready for export. They were transported on sledges pulled by oxen. The clattering sound this created through the streets indicated to everyone that the new wine was ready and was a cause for celebration.

The riding of the boards requires a very steep incline and is thus confined to such towns and villages that have them, most notably Icod de Los Vinos and La Guancha.

Needless to say, it's mostly young Tenerife men who indulge in this reckless practice. A sort of sledge is fashioned out of wood, which is then waxed on its underside to make it slippy.

Yes, you've guessed it - the participants then slide off down the steep streets.

The boards travel faster and faster and, as there's not really any way of steering them, it's more a matter of luck whether they avoid any obstacles to reach the finish.

This is marked by a big pile of old tyres, which the board eventually crashes into, sending its rider hurtling through the air.

There's no prize - just the gathered crowd's applause.

(There's a possible booby prize, though - a ride in an ambulance.)

The Wine Tasting

Even though it's November, the weather is usually clement enough to make this an outdoor event.

The various wineries offer their new vintages for tasting. It is a community event and you'll be given your sample of wine in a plastic cup. Braziers are set up in the street where chestnuts are roasted and you can also get a snack of sardines and sweet potatoes.

fiesta de san andres

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