Photo collage: Adeje Ayuntamiento.
Every year, the first fiesta in Adeje’s year gives an opportunity to see some real Canarian tradition in the heart of the tourist area. The fiesta is of one of the town’s patrons, San Sebastian, and takes place in La Caleta with horsemen riding into the sea, and pastoral farmers dragging their goats and sheep into the water for the animals to be blessed. The event’s draw makes it almost more a spectacular tourist event than a religious one, but despite the tens of thousands of people (literally!) who turn up to watch it – often with their pets and even the occasional donkey to be blessed as well – at its core is the honouring of San Sebastian, the saint who can ward off plagues, and so keep animals, and humans, healthy throughout the coming year.
This is a fiesta steeped in local traditions which was first celebrated here in the 18th century, though the current statue of San Sebastián which is carried ceremoniously to the sea was brought to the parish in 1916 by the then parish priest, Eulogio Gutiérrez Estévez. Over the years country people and local Adeje farmers and beyond continued with their devotions to the saint in a very particular and special way. Many have attributed miracles to the statue of San Sebastián, including cures and favours granted.
This year, hardly surprisingly, it will be different. Adeje Ayuntamiento has announced that the mass gatherings and animal blessings are cancelled, and that the traditional religious observances will be limited to a series of Masses with congregation reduced to the legal capacity of just 80: these will then be streamed for the public to watch online through the Church’s and council’s social media, eg Ayuntamiento de Adeje. The main Mass will be celebrated next Wednesday, 20 January, at midday, and others will follow Monday to Friday at 6pm, with a second Mass on Tuesday at 8pm, and two further Masses on Wednesday at 9am and midday.