Are you planning on scheduling a holiday in Toledo, Spain, the capital city of the Province of Toledo as well as the capital of the Autonomous Community of Castile-La Mancha? If so, you may be interested in some of the traditions and festivities that make this city so unique. To help you gain a better understanding of some these traditions, below we have compiled a brief profile of the city, including some information on the holidays and festivals celebrated by Toledo’s residents and a description of their traditional cuisine.
A trip to Toledo, Spain is an experience like none another, particularly for those who are interested in the city’s history and longstanding traditions—traditions reflected in its special celebrations and festivals, as well as its cuisine and sport.
Celebrations and Festivals in Toledo
Like in most Spanish cities, Christmas is a very important holiday in Toledo for the city’s large Christian population, just as Hanukah and the other High Jewish Holidays are significant in the Jewish quarter of town. There are two celebrations, however, that are very popular in the city: the Festival of Corpus Christi and Easter Week.
According to an ancient Spanish proverb, there are three Thursdays that shine brighter than the sun: Holy Thursday, Ascension Thursday and Corpus Christi. The Feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated liturgically on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, or “in cases when the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is assigned to the following Sunday as its proper day.” As such, the celebration usually takes place on a Sunday in late May or early June.
The feast of Corpus Christi, which may date back as far as the 13th century, is the most significant festival in Toledo and one of its oldest. Five weeks prior to the festival, the historic streets of Toledo are decked in awnings, wreaths and lanterns. The day before the feast, walls, windows and balconies are ornamented with antique pennants and tapestries from the 16th and 17th century, and the ground is speckled with fragrant herbs, whose scent symbolizes and the celebratory atmosphere of the following days. The procession is led by the Archbishop of Toledo, and is highlighted by the Monstrance, an early 16th century work of art crafted of gold and silver; and the distinctive and traditional groups of followers made up of various religious fraternities and guilds.
The Easter week celebration in Toledo, better known as Semana Santa de Toledo, is one of the most earnest and entrenched fiestas celebrated in Toledo, Spain. This celebration is rooted in centuries of history and tradition, remembering the passion and passing of Jesus Christ. During the festivities, the historic streets of Toledo become the stage for religious zeal and commitment, combining grief and meditation in the memory of Christ’s death, and celebration upon his resurrection.
The processions are symbolized by their somber nature, particularly those that take place on Holy or Maundry Thursday and Good Friday, but come Resurrection Sunday the city’s streets, monuments and historic structures come alive and help create a very special atmosphere during the various celebrations, especially after nightfall.
Food and Sport in Toledo
Toledo’s cuisine is in the same category as that of Castile-La Mancha and is based on centuries of tradition that are closely connected to hunting and grazing. The various recipes of the city reflect an amalgamation of Moorish and Christian influences, with specialties that include lamb, and roast stew, beans with partridge and partridge stew. Two of the city’s most famous food creations are Manchego cheese and marzipan, the latter of which has a Protected Geographical Indication—mazapan de Toledo.
Like in most cities in Spain, the residents of Toledo are wild about their football club—Club Deportivo Toledo—who play their games at the municipal field known as Leaping Horse. The city also boasts two successful handball teams, as well as two basketball teams, all of which receive heavy support from the city’s very devoted fan base.