The Festival of San Juan or Madre de Dios
With the arrival of the day of San Juan the
whole city of Soria is transformed into a real hullabaloo. The
festival has been declared of touristic interest in Castilla y
León, and dates back to the 12th century. The city is divided
into twelve areas that represent the twelve districts, and each
has a jurado, in charge of making the festival arrangements.
Each day has its assigned activities and even its own name. One of the most impressive days is Jueves de Saca, when young bulls are brought to the capital from Monte Valonsadero, herded by people on foot and on horseback.
Friday is Día de Toros, the day of the bulls. There are six bullfights in the morning and six n the afternoon. The giving out of the bull meat after the fights, for which the townspeople buy vouchers, and the auction for the prime cuts are the events of Saturday, Sábado Agés, when bull herding and bull-runs are also part of the festivities.
The celebrations are under the charge of each district, in their respective festival organisation. Each person receives their cut of meat and complimented by other local produce including wine, spirits and cakes.
But undoubtedly the main day of the San Juan festival is Domingo de Calderas. First thing in the morning all the inhabitants assemble in the Plaza Mayor to form the procession of Calderas, which leaves for la Alameda de Cervantes at about mid morning. One by one the city areas join the procession, many dressed in typical Sorian costume, behind the caldera, a huge copper pot which carries the bull meat stew, with roast chicken, chorizo and hard boiled eggs. Once they reach the Alameda, everybody is invited to a feast of stew, washed down with wine. The feast is called the Banquete Franco.
Monday brings the end to the festivities with another parade, in which each section of the city bears its personal saint. After mass is held in the Ermita de la Soledad, each statue is returned to its temple. The last procession, in the afternoon, follows the road the leads to San Polo, and open-air celebrations round the festival off until the next year's San Juan in Soria.