Tomorrow, "La Tomatina" will take the streets of Buñol, Valence, Spain. A settled tradition nowadays, it all began long time ago.
It was on the last Wednesday of August 1945, when the young people of that time were in the village square, where the “Tomatina” is celebrated. As the local authorities and the music band were parading during a festival of “giants and big-headeds”, a group of these young people who wanted to participate in the festival pushed the other young people who were wearing costumes. One of the young people fell on the floor, and when he got up he started to hit everyone there, so everybody started fighting. Nearby there was a vegetable market stall in the street with the boxes of vegetables ready to be sold. The young people started to throw tomatoes to each other until the police took control and stopped that “battle” and ordered the responsible party to pay for the damages.
The following year, the young people of the village repeated the “battle” but they brought their own tomatoes from home. Again this was broken up by the local police. After repeating the same celebration during consecutive years, the festival was non-officially established. These people did not imagine that they had established a tradition that would grow year by year.
In the beginning of the fifties the festival was forbidden by the City Hall of Buñol. But it did not stop some people from repeating the event and they were imprisoned. The village asked for the festival to be allowed and they insisted so much that finally the local authorities agreed to allow it. Each year there were more and more people participating in the festival, they had their pockets full of tomatoes and they were ready to throw water to each other, to jump in the fountains and to participate in other ‘loutish acts’. The problem was that this battle also involved the people who were only interested in watching and sometimes there were important people being ‘attacked’. So the festival was forbidden again.
In 1955 and as a protest the people celebrated ‘the tomato funeral’, a big demonstration where the villagers carried a coffin with a big tomato inside and they were accompanied by the band of music playing funeral marches. In 1957, the festival was definitely allowed and nowadays the City Hall organises and promotes this festival which made them famous all over the world.
The festival became popular all over Spain due to the Javier Basilio’s report, broadcasted in the TV program Informe Semanal.
Since 1980, the City Hall supplies the people with the tomatoes, and every year more and more tons of tomatoes are used, also there are more and more visitors.
On the 27 August 2002, the General Tourism Office awarded the Tomatina of Buñol with the title of
Source: La Tomatina 2009 webpage