VITORIA GASTEIZ, THE FIESTAS

Every August the 4th, at six oclock, after the “txupinazo” (a rocket basted off to start the fiestas), Celedón (the character embodying the
fiestas) is lowered from the tower of the San Miguel church to the Virgen Banca square. A human tide waits for him there to celebrate the kickoff of the Semana Grande (the Big Week). Thousands of sparkling wine bottles are uncorked and thousands of cigars lit. Last year a record was broken again: 50.000 people assembled there.

The doll villager from Zalduondo, hanging from its umbrella, descends with a zip-line, flying over a crowded square. Once it touches down, the doll is replaced by a youngster (nowadays Gorka Ortiz de Urbina). He walks the square back to the church stairs, through the inflamed crowd, with the help of a “blusas” guard (“blusas” are associations just for the fiestas). This path, just a few meters, takes a big effort. People tries to touch him, and some avalanches may occur. Once at the balcony, he waves his umbrella, greating the human mass, and declares the fiestas open, singing the popular song that talks about him: Celedón ha hecho una casa nueva, Celedón, con ventana y balcón!!! (Celedón’s got a new house, Celedón, with window and balcony!!!)

Everybody in Vitoria knows the Celedón song. He is a very beloved character, portraited in a sculpture at the San Miguel balcony. The face taken from Jose Luis Isasi Montalbán one of the creators of the character, and first to represent Celedón. This representation is a very deeply rooted tradition in the city. It was first  carried out in 1957. On the very first time, the line got broken, but this didn’t stop Isasi to turn up at the balcony and declare the fiestas starting.

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