Rooted celebrations, festivities and ancestral acts
The religious festivities celebrated in Villalcázar de Sirga go back centuries. Its inhabitants have known how to transmit from generation to generation the acts with which they honour their patrons, but they have also been able to leave other customs linked to leisure and entertainment.
Aware of the importance of maintaining those traditions, the inhabitants participate and collaborate in them, achieving that, for the time being, there is a generational relay that guarantees the survival of rites, traditional dances or popular games. This allows to generate among the inhabitants of this Palencia village a feeling of belonging with the intention of continuing in the future.
Our Lady of the River and Saint Fructuoso are the official patrons of Villalcázar de Sirga, although different events are also organized in honor of Our Lady the White, to whom its famous parish church is dedicated.
The Virgin of the River is celebrated on the Monday immediately after Pentecost. In the days before this date different activities are organized for publics of all ages, but it is on the eve when they become important. Sunday is the time when, once the Novena in the church of Santa María la Blanca is over, the carving of the Virgin of the River returns to her hermitage, one and a half kilometres from the village. It is at this point that popular wisdom says that the Virgin herself wanted the temple to be built after being rescued from a flood and appearing to a shepherd.
The villagers move the carving and once in their house they sing La Salve to it, to end with a floral offering. It is on Monday that all the villagers come to the hermitage again in a procession that dates back to 1752, when the intercession of the Virgin was requested to end the plague that was devastating the area. Traditional music accompanies all those who take part in this pilgrimage, who then attend a sung mass and then return to take the image in procession around the church, enjoying good food on the esplanade of the chapel, if the weather is good.
San Fructuoso is celebrated every 28th April. The relics of this saint are kept inside the church of Santa María la Blanca, in a reliquary in the shape of an arm. It is a more modest celebration, but one that is deeply rooted. In the past, the Town Hall went around the schools handing out cookies to the children.
And although Santa María la Blanca is not the patron saint of the town, various events are also organised to celebrate her on her day, 5 August. Since it is celebrated in summer, the presence of alcazareños is much greater and, therefore, the most extensive and varied festive programme. Among the programmed events, the election of the melgueras and the melgueros and the chana championship, a popular game that in Villalcázar de Sirga has a lot of pull. It consists of knocking down two horns using morrillos, cylindrical shaped stones that are thrown from a considerable distance. The game consists of knocking down the horns in a direct throw, without the pile bouncing or bouncing on the ground.
It is also a tradition on this day to participate in the medieval dinner that has a great local support, after which the Rigodon takes place. In the Plaza Mayor and under the attentive eye of the locals, several straw walkers take part in this ballroom dance of French origin. The dancers are dressed up and must follow the instructions of the dance leader or baton player, who marks the changes in the figures they must perform while the accordion music plays.