Mojácar, along with the other towns in the Almeria Levante region, celebrated the traditional ‘old lady’ fiesta day, “Día de La Vieja “, on March 8th.
Once Carnival time and Ash Wednesday are over, this age old ritual it is held on the Thursday nearest to the halfway point of Lent, hence the Spanish expression “partir La Vieja Cuaresma”, bidding goodbye to the first part of Lent. It consists of a day of food and drinks in the countryside, together with family and friends, bidding farewell to the winter and welcoming the springtime.
The prior representation of the confrontation between the opposing carnival characters Don Carnal and Doña Cuaresma is another example of festivities and fun in the face of religious devotion and sobriety and the practice of this particular tradition derives from Holy Saturday where the figure of Doña Cuaresma was personified through the grotesque image of an old woman after her triumph over Don Carnal.
On the day, Mojácar’s townsfolk scatter themselves in one of the town’s many green areas, particularly in “Los Gurullos” and “Las Alparatas” in order to share food, maybe a good paella and taste the sweets that are hidden their “Viejas”.
At the end of the meal, the children take centre stage and congregate around their “Vieja”, which is a small doll that resembles an old woman placed on a wooden cross which has a cloth head stuffed with sweeties.
The “Vieja” will have been previously staked in the ground and the smaller children are the ones in charge of breaking it open to find and eat the sweets inside it. Traditionally it is a also time to taste the “Hornazo” (an elongated, sweet, braided bread enclosing a hardboiled egg), although the day is generally characterized by the abundance of all kinds of food.
The day of “La Vieja” is the only fiesta that is not represented by a Saint, but by a pagan figure, although it still has some Christian roots. However, whatever its origin, the truth is that it has been celebrated ‘since forever’ and no Mojaquero would willingly miss one of the first opportunities of the year to enjoy the day outdoors.