Viva the virgin / Viva la Virgen del Carmen

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

Yesterday was the Día del Carmen, honoring the Virgin of Carmen, patron saint of mariners and of Los Boliches (our part of Fuengirola). Every year, around 100 men, called costaleros, carry the virgin through the streets of Los Boliches and into the Mediterranean Sea.

The float actually floats. So, as long as the surf is calm, the costaleros’ job can be easier in the water. However, they regularly raise the virgin from the support of their shoulders to high over the heads, no small task, to the cheers of the crowd. It’s festive, friendly, and except for a number of sloppily drunk British and Finnish tourists this year, everyone was well behaved. I’m not at all religious, so I’m a bit uncomfortable at times with the religious zeal. But the pageantry, cultural tradition, and the friendliness of the crowds are, to me, a wonder.

Traditionally, fireworks begin the moment Carmen reaches the water, but there were no fireworks this year. We noticed smoke flares being repeatedly set off and San Geraldo guessed the winds were being tested. It was a calm night, but the wind was blowing low and directly onshore, which would make fireworks and the smoke dangerous. For more photos, check out my 2019 blog post (click here).


Ayer fue el Día del Carmen, en honor a la Virgen del Carmen, patrona de los marineros y de Los Boliches (nuestra parte de Fuengirola). Cada año, alrededor de 100 hombres, llamados costaleros, llevan a la virgen por las calles de Los Boliches hasta el mar Mediterráneo.

El flotador realmente flota. Entonces, mientras el oleaje esté en calma, el trabajo de los costaleros puede ser más fácil en el agua. Sin embargo, levantan regularmente a la virgen desde el apoyo de sus hombros hasta lo más alto de sus cabezas, una tarea no menor, ante los aplausos de la multitud. Es festivo, amigable y, a excepción de una cantidad de turistas británicos y finlandeses descuidadamente borrachos este año, todos se portaron bien. No soy nada religioso, así que a veces me siento un poco incómodo con el celo religioso. Pero la pompa, la tradición cultural y la amabilidad de las multitudes son, para mí, una maravilla.

Tradicionalmente, los fuegos artificiales comienzan en el momento en que Carmen llega al agua, pero este año no hubo fuegos artificiales. Notamos que se encendían repetidamente bengalas de humo y San Geraldo supuso que se estaban probando los vientos. Era una noche tranquila, pero el viento soplaba bajo y directamente hacia la costa, lo que haría que los fuegos artificiales y el humo fueran peligrosos. Para ver más fotos, consulte el post de mi blog de 2019 (haz clic aquí).

• Fixing a problem with the lights.
• Solucionar un problema con las luces.
• A line of lifeguards. Patron saints of our beaches.
• Una línea de socorristas. Patronos de nuestras playas.
• Back on the Paseo.
• De vuelta en el Paseo.

Click the thumbnails.
Haz clic en las miniaturas.


Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

30 thoughts on “Viva the virgin / Viva la Virgen del Carmen”

  1. There’s just something about a fashionably tonsured young man in a sailor suit carrying an immense silver candle stick… I’ve always been a sucker for that type.

    1. Wicked Hamster:
      Even better are all those other guys coming out of the water in soaked white pants. Sorry I didn’t get any shots of that; I had headed back to the Paseo.

    1. Judy C:
      Thanks. I wasn’t thrilled with them this year. Looking at them now, I like them more.

  2. Quite a procession! I suppose even non-religious people might keep up the event for the sake of tradition. I’ve heard that Spain is battling wildfires in some areas so I’m not surprised the fireworks didn’t happen.

    1. Steve:
      I wish some of these religious traditions would become simply historic and not so religious. But it matters to others. We have a week-long fair along with the procession. Those fireworks were also cancelled. So glad.

  3. A very beautiful float to be sure, but I’m a little surprised it could float at all, given how many strapping young men are hoisting her along the Paseo! Your photographs are beautifully lit and professional as always — I think Fuengirola’s tourism websites should hire you!

    1. Tundra Bunny:
      It’s a very substantial pontoon base. Thanks regarding the photos. I wasn’t completely pleased with these. They‘re growing on me.

  4. The virgin looks surely amazing. The decorations appear to be of Thai style for some reasons. The way the people lift her statue reminds me of Gion festival in Kyoto in Japan

    1. Roentare:
      I see what you mean about Thai style. I’ll have to see what I can find on Gion festival.

  5. I’m torn between appreciating tradition and being embarrassed by it. Do I detect a bit of Arabic influence in the song/chant?

    1. Frank:
      There’s Arabic influence in so much here. Architecture, music, language.

    1. Sassybear:
      SG wants to be carried through the streets on a paso by a 100 men (or maybe 6) on his quadrenial Día de San Geraldo. The next time one is in 2024.

  6. I’m not religious either, but it’s like looking at a gothic cathedral or a stained-glass window. It’s human craftmanship, human artistry, human creativity on display.

  7. Whenever I see such splendor and spectacle I think of my Protestant upbringing days. They would point out these types of photos as Papists worshipping Mary (oh the horror!)

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