Let’s Paint it Red The Tomatino Festival

Posted By

Ravi Goel

In 1945, Mahatma Gandhi used non-violence as a methodology to drive away the Britishers from the country so that he could declare the country Independent, In the same year young adults of spain picked up tomatoes from a vegetable seller and used it as a weapon to be a part of the event of a parade of gigantes y cabezudos. La Tomatina is a food fight festival held on the last Wednesday of August in the town of Bunol near to Valencia in Spain. This is the history of how Tomatino Festival came to be celebrated in Spain.


In the following year the same tomato fight was being repeated in the month of August with the only difference that this time they brought tomatoes from their home. This tomato fight was carried on year after year till it became a tradition. In the year 1957 a group of young people planned to celebrate ‘Tomato’s Funeral’ with singers and comedians. One big Tomato was carried inside the coffin as the group of young adults marched with the funeral song. After gaining a lot of importance the once ‘Tomato Funeral’ came to be celebrated as the biggest tomatoes fight -‘The Tomatino Festival’.
Tomatino festival is not as simple as it has a series of rules with proper description which needs to be followed while playing the game. The first step is preparing for the “palo jamon which means greasy pole. This is the first step of the Tomatino festival in which the person should climb the greasy pole with ham on top meanwhile the crowd is singing and dancing in the shower of water. Once someone is able to drop the ham from the pole the tomato fight begins as the water is shot in the air and trucks make their entry. Tomatoes are thrown at the people in abundance from the truck in Plaza del Pueblo.

The tomatoes are collected from Extremadura whre the tomatoes are less expensive due to their inferior quality and are grown in abundance for the festival. The people participating in the festival are asked to wear goggles and crushed the tomatoes before they are thrown at other people to reduce the chance of injury.

The approximate number of tomatoes used in this festival round up to 150,000 which is over 40 metric tonnes. As the second shot is fired the fight comes to a halt and you could see the entire city painted red with the juice of tomato freely flowing in almost every part. At the end of the festival the local people use hoses to wipe out the tomato from their body and you might find others bathing in the “los penones” washing out the tomato paste.

The city council follows a short list of instructions for the safety of the participants and the festival:

1. The tomatoes have to be squashed before throwing to avoid injuries.
2. No other projectiles except tomatoes are allowed.
3. Participants have to give way to the truck and lorries.
4. The festival doesn’t allow ripping off T-shirts.
5. After the second shot indicative of ending the tomato hurl, no tomatoes should be thrown.

Who knew that tomatoes once used for showcasing a presence in the event may later be celebrated as the biggest food fight in Spain. So are you prepared to paint the city of Spain red with the Tomatino Festival.

Written by Ravi Goel