When we were kids, we were taught that a tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable. Growing up, we might have also learned that it has so many benefits like acting as an antioxidant, and that it contains healthy stuff such as vitamin A, C, iron, lycopene, etc. The tomato has all these qualities and more, but there’s one thing that could top all of these. There’s one thing that makes the tomato more awesome than it already is.

You can smash it in someone’s face and be smashed with it in return.

The La Tomatina is a celebration that will make you do this. A festival held in the small town in Buñol in Valencia, Spain, this event has been considered as one of the town’s most important celebrations. It al started sometime around 1945, when a small group of men was said to have a brawl by using tomatoes as weapons. Some say that it started as a class war, or a practical joke, or an attack on councilmen during a celebration. The truth is, no one has exactly painted a clear account of how this event started, but right now, all we know is that today, it’s one of the most unique, not to mention reddest festivals in the world.

This festival is flocked by tens and thousands of people every year who all wish to take part in a festivity that involves about one hundred metric tons of tomatoes. Imagine how awesome that is—being hit on the head with an overripe fruit. Surely no event can provide you with such healthy, harmless, and messy celebration!

The La Tomatina Festival has been passed on since any of the said tomato-related events, and now it has grown this big. This festival is celebrated in honor of St. Louis Bertrand and the Mother of God of the Defenseless, the town’s patron saints. The La Tomatina 2011 will happen at the same time they did in the previous years, which is the last Friday of the month of August. This year, it will be in August 31st. For one whole hour (or more), tomatoes will be thrown all over the place—people will get drenched with tomato juice, swim in tomato pools, and get hit by tens and thousands of squished tomatoes.

If you’re planning to go to the Tomatina festival, better to always have the following things in mind:

source: blacktomato.co.uk
  1. Do not wear clothes that you’re planning to wear again. This is a special festival, but this is not one of the instances where you wear your favorite dress or t-shirt. You clothes will be ruined and stained at the end of the festivities, so better wear old clothes, the ones that you can throw away anytime (for men, it is also advisable to not wear shirts at all).
  2. Bring goggles to protect your eyes. Lots of tomatoes thrown at you means acid in your eyes. You certainly don’t want that!
  3. Wear proper shoes, preferably the ones that have a good grip so you won’t trip easily, and you can run without slipping and having your face on puddles of tomatoes in the ground.
  4. Do not have any bottles or sharp objects that will cause harm to other festival attendees.
  5. Only throw tomatoes, and nothing else. This is not a water bottle festival or a shoe festival. You throw tomatoes, and tomatoes only
    source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/renotahoe/
  6. This is one of the most important things that you must always remember: crush the tomatoes first before you throw it at anyone or anything. This is to prevent bruising or any other kind of pain towards other people. The tomato might seem soft, but the hard ones could cause a lot of pain.
  7. Though you will be throwing lots of tomatoes to strangers, you cannot do it to hurt them. Remember that this is a festival dedicated to the town’s patron saints. Don’t use it to hurt people on purpose.
  8. Most importantly, have fun. It is not every day that you get to throw a crushed tomato into someone’s face, and not get beaten up, so relish every moment of it!
source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/flydime/

The other features of this parade include parades, musical performances, fireworks, and a lot of dancing. On the eve of the La Tomatina, there will be a paella cooking competition, which will surely give you that dose of authentic Spanish greatness. Buñol brings a new benefit of the tomato, and being a part of it will be nothing short of awesome!

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