It could be just anywhere, it’s one of the many many tiny villages around the rural Spain, places that saw how most of their young people had to leave looking for a better life in the back then growing industrial areas around Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona…
Places that nowadays are happy to welcome some of those past migrants, now wanting to enjoy their hard earned retirement in the countryside where they grew up. Places which see how population grows 5 or 10 or 20 times during the summer months, afternoons with kids playing, summer celebrations, music, balls and sun heating the wheat fields and everything under it, as if it was a toasting oven.
Many of these towns and villages have grown up really attached to their religious icons, and during the patron’s days you can see many of these parades around. In this case this is a tiny village in the rural area of Guadalajara, Spain, during its celebration of their patron’s celebration, la Virgen de la Merced.
It starts on September 24th, at 13, when the Virgin is taken out the chapel and walked all around the village, with everybody following her until it again reaches the square behind the chapel.
Once there, and with all the assistants around, a curious event takes place. Basically, carrying the virgin is a honor, and as such is being one of the carriers. So, each carrying place for the Virgin’s couch is literally put up for auction among those men and women willing to bid for it.
Once the auction is over and every carrier place has been assigned (sometimes for amounts up to 200-300 euros, which go to the church and village maintenance), the Virgin’s image is again taken inside the chapel, where it will rest until the next parade, which takes place at night.
That is probably the most impressive part of the whole day celebrations: after a prying inside the chapel, and with nothing else than a few candles lighting the pitch black night, again, the Virgin walks arond the streets, performing a ritual which probably could be traced back to our most ancient origins, and which can still be seen in multiple places around the world.