August is here and that is the time when Gran Canaria loves to celebrate la Fiesta de la Rama. I believe everyone knows, what the Spanish word “fiesta” means, but what would you imagine beneath the expression “Branch Party”? Lets start from the begining.
The 4th and 5th of August a sleepy little place of Agaete wakes up to celebrate one of the islands biggest fiestas that thousands of people from all over the island comes to commemorate. Nowadays we can consider this feast as a sublime combination of pagan and religion ceremony, but where is the origin of this event and why the branches?
The celebrations start early in the morning (around 5 o´clock) at the 4th of August. According to the tradition the participants should take a long and difficult path from the village, through the Valley of Agaete up to the mountains of Tamadaba to bring the branches of the trees. Why would they do it? Take it as a promise to the local Virgin. At the moment not everyone is ready to do such a pilgrimage in so far that the majority of the visitants start the ceremony way later (around 11 o´clock) waiting in the upper part of the village of Agaete for the arrival of the branches.
When the branches are distributed between all the pilgrims, the procession starts to move slowly throught the narrow streets of the village towards the picturesque port of Puerto de las Nieves. The pilgrims dance all the way down holding the branches above their heads, accompanied by sound of the local music band. The procession stops in front of the chapel of the Virgin where the last dances are performed and branches placed in front of the church to be an aromatic offer to the Virgin.
The habit of bringing the branches was given long time ago already in the prehispanic times when the indigenous priestesses used to call the rain taking the butter and milk up to the mountains of Tamadaba, bringing back branches of the trees to hit the waters of the ocean by them.
Afterwards the festivities continue the next day – 5th of August when another procession takes the painting of the Virgen to the church of the main village of Agaete where it stays untill the day 17th, when her excursion is being finished returning her in another fiesta´s procession back to the port´s chappel.
Excited to visit? There is a bus nr. 103 from Las Palmas to Agaete once an hour eventhough during the days of the event it is usually more frequent then normally. All over the year we can take you to visit the picturesque port of Puerto de las Nieves on our Tuesday´s Gran Tour.