It’s sometimes tricky on Tenerife to spot when the seasons have changed. The days are still sunny, the nights are still warm and the trees and flowers still blossom and grow. But there are some things that signal the arrival of autumn for me – the fact that it’s dark when I’m setting off to watch the mid week Champions League games, the unmistakable aroma of roasting chestnuts in the air and the almighty racket of metal crashing along cobbles.
Anyone arriving in Puerto on the evening of 29th November might be forgiven for assuming the townsfolk were slightly mad as mums and dads photograph their little darlings running around dragging long strings of empty drinks cans behind them. But they pale into insignificance beside the groups of adolescents dragging home-made chariots of old washing machines and car radiators through the streets leaving a trail of sparks and slightly hearing-impaired visitors in their wake.
On a seemingly unconnected theme…the sharp eyed amongst you will have noticed the proliferation of what appears to be the Scottish National flag on Tenerife. It’s to be seen fluttering outside the south airport, standing guard at the entrance to Island Government buildings and emblazoned across Colin’s face on his way to an important home game of CD Tenerife football club.
Fond though the Tinerfeños are of the Scots, that’s not why the flags are there. It’s because Tenerife shares the same flag as Scotland, which is why it’s also on the shirts of the island’s football team.
The significance of Puerto’s street din and the flag sharing are both down to one man – a certain Saint Andrew, or San Andrés as he’s known here, and in much the same way as his connection with Scotland is uncertain, so the Saint’s Tenerife credentials are the source of legend.
It’s told that Saint Andrew arrived on Tenerife to preach the gospels and that his visit coincided with the opening of the wine vaults for the new year’s harvest. Being a sociable sort of chap, Andrew tested some of the wine – so much so that he fell asleep and local children tied old pans to his clothes so that he’d wake up every time he tried to turn over.
Hence the metal racket.
By happy circumstance, the date of the Scottish Saint’s feast day still happens to be the day the island’s vintners unveil the season’s new wine which, along with the roasted chestnuts flows liberally, allowing my ears to fall into the sort of stupor Andrew must have experienced.
If you’re planning on being in Tenerife for Saint Andrew’s Day (30th November), head to Puerto de la Cruz the night before and join in the festive madness.
Or you could go to Icod de los Vinos and watch the locals hurtling down near-vertical streets on polished trays and crashing into mounds of old tyres at the bottom…did I mention the odd behaviour of some of Tenerife’s population when autumn arrives?
Category : festivals & carnivals
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