Our cultural year begins with The Three Wise Men, or Three Kings Procession, a night when children are the true stars of a procession through the streets of our town and where most of the population contributes in making it a wonderful parade. Their Majesties from the East ride on decorated floats, accompanied by other personages and interesting scenes and together they rain gifts and candies on the watching crowds.
The mining villages of San Telmo and Valdelamusa, as well as our neighbour La Corte, also enjoy colourful magical processions every year.
At the end of February we celebrate Carnival, which has been revived with much enthusiasm during the past few years. During the first weekend, we present the Carnival Queens and Princesses in the Capitol Sierra Theatre, the coronation of the Queens, the proclamation of the events and performances of choirs and carnival groups singing satirical songs (comparsas, chirigotas, cuartetos) that entertain the public with their humour, satire and ingenuity. Even if you don’t catch all the jokes and allusions, it’s a spectacle well worth seeing. Co-inciding with the first Friday of Carnival, in the 90s, we used to celebrate a Flour Festival, an activity that had its origin in carnivals at the beginning of the last century and took place on Ash Wednesday, when participants threw flour at each other. Nowadays this has disappeared.
The following weekend is the street procession where everybody takes part, in costume, the participants in the theatre groups together with individuals and families, dancing and singing along the streets and ending up at the marquee in the centre where we dance all night. The festivities conclude with Funeral for the Chorizo (the emblem of Cortegana), which commemorates the death of Lord Carnival, and draws the fun to a close with a chorizo feast, thanks to the generosity of the sausage and ham producers in our town.
Carnival is also celebrated in the outlying villages of Valdelamusa, San Telmo and La Corte
In springtime we celebrate Holy Week. These are days of great devotion, where religion, culture and tradition meld and where you can watch processions that have a great popular tradition in the religious enclaves of Cortegana.
The brotherhoods and religious guilds, some with centuries of history, process in all their splendour through the streets beginning on Friday of Sorrows, before Palm Sunday, with the procession of Hermandad de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores (the brotherhood of Our Lady of Sorrows).
On Palm Sunday, in the morning there is a blessing of rosemary branches and palms and the procession of Santísimo Cristo del Amor (Most Holy Loving Christ ) and in the late afternoon, the procession of the Hermandad de Nuestro Padre Jesús en su Sagrada Oración en el Huerto (Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus in his Sacred Sermon in the Garden).
On Holy Wednesday there is the procession of Nuestro Padre Jesús de la Humildad (Our Father Jesus in Humility), Santísima Cruz de Jerusalén (The Holy Cross of Jerusalem) and Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza (Our Lady of Hope).
On Maundy Thursday in the evening the processions of Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno y María Santísima del Valle (Our Father Jesus the Nazarene and Holy Mary of the Valley), and at dawn el Silencio (the Silent Procession) with the Santísimo Cristo de la Buena Muerte (Holy Christ in His Good Death).
On Good Friday there are the penitent stations of the Cross, with Santísimo Cristo de la Vera Cruz (Most Holy Christ on the True Cross), María Santísima del Rosario y San Juan Evangelista (Most Holy Mary of the Rosary and Saint John) and at dawn the Vía Crucis (the Way of the Cross) with the images of Santísimo Cristo de la Buena Muerte y Nuestra Señora de La Soledad (Most Holy Christ in His Good Death and Our Lady of Solitude).
Finally, on Holy Saturday there is the procession of Santísimo Cristo de la Misericordia en el Santo Entierro (Most Holy Christ of Mercy in His Holy Burial).
At midnight on Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday celebrations begin with the burning of Judas in various points of the town, where straw effigies representing this biblical character are burnt.
From Easter Sunday onwards begins the celebration of Easter, which continues for three days and consists of an excursion into the countryside to enjoy with your family local traditional treats like aniseed buns and boiled eggs, decorated with paint, which are traditionally given by godparents to their godchildren.
In April we celebrate our Book Festival in the Capitol Sierra Theatre, to encourage reading and easy access to books. It ends with a series of activities like plays, literary discussion groups, films and storytelling.
In the flower month, the Adelfa Women’s Association organises the May Cross decorations around the cross in Miguel Casimiro Sánchez street, picking up again in recent years one of the traditional religious festivals of our town.
San Telmo’s pilgrimage (“Romería”), honouring their patron San Telmo, is celebrated in May in a place called Palomarejo. You will be surprised and delighted by the wonderful dance of the “lanzaores” by the youngsters of the village and afterwards the welcome to the May King and Queen by the brotherhood.
In June Corpus Christi is celebrated, with a procession by all the brotherhoods in the town.
The Pilgrimage of Saint Anthony of Padua is celebrated in June, around the 13th, his saint’s day. It is one of the most important and most popular in the Sierra.
The festivities begin during the preceding weeks with the organisation of the Proclamation of the Romería by the Brotherhood of San Antonio de Padua. Enlivened by the participation of many flamenco groups, it is an event full of passion and devotion which greatly moves the audience.
The Romería or Pilgrimage begins on Friday with the removal of Saint Anthony’s Banner from the parish church El Divino Salvador to the El Calvario chapel at the other end of the town.
The following day, the Romeria procession sets off from the chapel in a pilgrimage to the chapel of the Virgen del Rosario (The Virgin of the Rosary) in the hamlet of La Corte, some 6 kilometres from Cortegana. Some go on foot and others in gaily decorated carts and lorries, all singing traditional sings and playing drums, guitars and tambourines and the Banner carried in a beautifully decorated cart drawn by two specially trained bullocks.
After the walk, which takes most of the day, with many stops for refreshments and dancing, a weekend of enjoyment begins for all the pilgrims, who meet in tents and marquees set up in the field behind the chapel.
On Saturday night we celebrate Santo Rosario (The Holy Rosary), with a procession through the streets of the hamlet, and continued singing and dancing around the bonfires that light up the oak grove.
On Sunday, in the morning, there is a reveille procession by drummers and flautists and a mass in the chapel. In the evening, the participants return singing, accompanying the Banner by lamplight back to the parish church in Cortegana.
The last day, called “Recovery Monday” or “Hangover Day”, the pilgrims meet in the field at La Corte, to finish off the food and drink and pack up their belongings.
In the second week of July the Association of Friends of the Castle celebrates their Cultural Conference a round of talks with a distinct cultural and historical character. They are given in the courtyard of the castle, where artists also display their work and there are literary discussions and the drawing up of the medieval festival poster.
During July the hamlet of Puerto Lucía honours their patron Saint Lucía with a procession and a dance with a live band.
On the third weekend of July, in honour of their patron, the mining village of Valdelamusa holds a procession with The Virgen del Carmen (The Virgin of the Garden), various traditional dances and live music.
At the end of July San Telmo honours their patron, Saint Telmo, with a procession and traditional games, among which the favourite is “capture the rooster”.
Throughout the summer there are various street parties in different parts of the town and villages, usually organised by the brotherhoods, when dancing and live music goes on until the early hours, perpetuating traditional festivities which give the neighbours much fun and enjoyment.
The Cortegana Fair is dedicated to its patron saint, Our Lady of Piety, who is carried in procession through the streets of the town on the 8th September with devotion and passion. During the following days we hold our Fair, which had its origins in an agricultural fair at the time before the pigs were taken up to the oak groves to feed on the acorns. Nowadays it concentrates on festive activities such as horse riding, bullfighting, reveille by drummers and flautists, a concert by the Municipal Band, fireworks, meeting friends and fun in the marquees set up by the different clubs, stalls and fairground rides for the youngsters. You can hear tales of Cortegana’s folklore such as the traditional songs brought in by Catalan cork-cutters: el taponero (the wine corker) and la culebra (the snake).
In the days before Christmas CARECO, a cultural association organises the children’s Christmas Concert, with the children from the Divino Salvador Primary School. Later there is a regional Christmas carol concert with the participation of various primary schools and musical groups in the area.
Our cultural year ends with the New Year’s Eve Concert in the parish church Divino Salvador with prestigious international orchestras, often from eastern European countries.