Updated March 2023
Madrid, Spain – Every year in October, the streets of Madrid are taken over by a strange and festive tradition known as the Fiesta de la Trashumancia. This annual event celebrates the ancient practice of moving livestock from their summer pastures in the mountains to their winter grazing grounds in the plains.
A brief history
The practice of transhumance has been a part of Spanish culture for centuries. It began as a way for shepherds to find better grazing land for their flocks during the harsh winter months. The journey was often long and arduous, taking weeks or even months to complete. In order to keep their livestock safe and together, shepherds would drive their animals through the streets of the city, creating a spectacle for all to see.
As the years went by, the practice of transhumance became less common, but the people of Madrid were determined to keep the tradition alive. Thus, the Fiesta de la Trashumancia was born.
The Fiesta de la Trashumancia begins early in the morning, as hundreds of sheep, goats, and cattle are herded through the streets of Madrid. The animals are accompanied by shepherds dressed in traditional clothing, playing music and singing songs. The streets are lined with onlookers, eager to catch a glimpse of the spectacle.
As the procession winds its way through the city, the animals leave behind a trail of droppings, much to the delight of the crowd. Some even make a game of trying to avoid stepping in the manure, which only adds to the festive atmosphere.
At the end of the journey, the livestock are corralled in a park where they are allowed to graze and rest. Meanwhile, the shepherds and their families enjoy a day of food, drink, and merriment.
In recent years, the Fiesta de la Trashumancia has taken on a more modern twist. Along with the traditional livestock, the parade now includes a variety of other animals, such as llamas, alpacas, and even camels. There are also numerous food stalls and craft vendors set up along the route, adding to the carnival atmosphere.
However, despite these changes, the core of the tradition remains the same. The Fiesta de la Trashumancia serves as a reminder of the centuries-old importance of livestock in Spain.