The Fiesta of St. Sebastian and Las Carantonas History

While browsing Twitter one day, I stumbled upon a pretty vivid photo of men and children dressed in animal skin masks wandering around a city. Immediately intrigued, I decided to learn a little bit more about the Las Carantonas History and why they appear during the fiesta of St. Sebastian.

Spain - Las Carantonas Placeholder
Spain - Las Carantonas

For reference, Acehuche is a very small city about 300 kilometers to the west of Madrid, in the fully autonomous region of Spain called Extremadura.

Once every year (on January 20th), during the Fiesta de St. Sebastian, the Carantonas come out and roam the streets of this otherwise quite town. Walking about the streets with everyone to try to find Saint Sebastian.

Carantonas - Photo by Pedro Armestre (AFP/Getty Images)

Carantonas – Photo by Pedro Armestre (AFP/Getty Images)

Their outfits are stitched together from sheep, cow, goat, & rabbit fur alongside a handpainted face mask to create a rather frightening character. However, looking at a handful of photos online, they seem to walk hand-in-hand with the children trying to find St. Sebastian.

Eventually, everyone makes it to the church where a procession is held to honor St. Sebastian.

So, who is this Saint Sebastian guy? Well, he was an early Christian saint and martyr that is believed to have been killed during Diocletian’s (Roman) empire. He is held in high regard by the Catholic and Orthodox churches. He was said to be a great help/defense against the plague, so much so that there was an altar created to honor him.

After he passed away, circa 288, his skull was taken to a town in Ebersberg, Germany where it is said to have been lined with silver and used as a cup to present wine to church goers.

While looking more into the Las Carantonas history, I stumbled on a handful of other interesting sounding Spanish traditions & festivals. Know of any yourself? Tell me more about it in the comments below.

Cory

Life-Long Learner, Explorer, & Web Developer. Currently a Software Engineer at Jazz.