If you’ve never heard of Spain’s La Tomatina festival, you are missing out. We’ve heard of some pretty crazy traditions and festivals around the world (do you know how many European countries have celebrations dedicated to specific foods?) but this one pretty much tops them all. At La Tomatina in Bunol, Spain, crowds of people (this year they were expecting 20,000) throw tomatoes at each other in the street for one hour in the world’s largest food fight. Yeah, that’s right. Every year.
I may or may not have just swum partially down a river/street of tomato sludge #LaTomatina #Buñol pic.twitter.com/9gIJxsVfOk
— HiRezColman (@HiRezColman) August 31, 2016
I survived La Tomatina!!
I’m never eating tomatoes again
— Melissa Smigelski (@melissaofcanada) August 31, 2016
The festival happens on the last Wednesday in August every year and draws thousands of tourists from all over to pummel each other with tomatoes. And it gets even weirder. No one is 100 percent sure how the whole thing came to be. Multiple sources say that the festival started in either 1944 or 1945 when a celebration turned into a riot and people started throwing vegetables. The festival has been cancelled several times in the years since then but officially celebrated its 70th anniversary last year in 2015.
The games start with a loud bang at precisely 11:00am and continue for one hour until another bang at 12:00pm. What happens in that hour looks like just wet tomato anarchy and we have so many questions.
1. Why tomatoes?
We guess it must just be that they’re one of the softest options. But they’re so messy! They do look incredibly satisfying to throw though.
2. How do you get thousands of people to stop throwing tomatoes at each other?
Sure, there’s a bang to signal the end of the fight, but how do you get thousands of people to actually stop when the sound goes off? We feel like there would still be at least hundreds of people going, ‘just one more tomato.’
3. Is this a game? Are there teams and alliances?
We’re sure there are people who just came out to have a good time and get covered in tomato juice, but are there super competitive people there too? Are there hardcore La Tomatina participants who are there to ‘win’? Is there even a way to win?
4. How long do you hate tomatoes after participating?
There has to be a period after the event when you can’t look at a tomato the same. How can you have tomato sauce without thinking about the tomato-soaked street?
5. Does all this tomato juice do anything for your skin?
They say lemon juice can be good for your skin so what about tomato juice? Could we look at this event as a full-body facial? After we hose down, will our skin be nice and silky soft? We certainly hope so.
6. WHAT IF YOU GET TOMATO JUICE IN YOUR EYE?!
This seems like a real concern. If there are tomatoes flying everywhere and nowhere in the street is safe, how do you avoid the inevitable tomato to the face? And once you get the juice in your eye, how can you possibly get it out if everything is covered in tomato? How are all the participants not blind? These guys aren’t even wearing their goggles!
7. Are there seriously police officers who have to stand around and make sure the food-throwing shenanigans don’t get out of hand?
Wouldn’t that be the hardest job? You just have to stand there and watch groups of people throw tomatoes at each other. You probably don’t even get to participate.
8. What do you wear to this thing?
Sure, you don’t want to wear your best clothes because they’re going to get covered in tomato juice but there are going to be tonnes of photographers taking pictures of the event and you probably want to look good (well, as good as you can look covered in tomato mush). But you also want to be comfortable. This just turned into quite the fashion dilemma.
9. Does anyone ever lie down and make tomato angels in the street?
Asking for a friend.
10. How long does that sound of a ripe tomato splattering on a hard surface haunt your dreams?
It seems like there might be some long-term effects associated with being pummeled by tomatoes for an hour.
11. Who cleans all this up?
Apparently, they bring in firetrucks to hose down the streets after the festivities, but how long does that take and how do they decide who has the unfortunate job of clean-up duty?