This fiesta is in honor of St. James, the patron saint of Spain and of
Galicia in particular. It was in Spain where this fisherman is said to
have preached and where his transformation occurred.
In the year 841 at
the Battle of Clavijo, between the Christians and Moors, St. James
appeared on the battlefield on a horse adorned with scallop shells.
Legend claims that he himself slew 60,000 Moors and in his honor, the
Order of St. James the Sword was established (Santiago de Espada).
St. James later also became known as the saint of the conquistadors.
Santiago de Compostela was the place where legend says the body of
St. James was miraculously sanctified. And as his relics were being transported
from Jerusalem (where he died) to Spain, a Portuguese rider and his horse fell
into the sea. Upon being rescued, the rider's clothing was covered with scallop
shells - as had been decorated St. James's horse.
Pilgrims from around the world cross the country on foot until they reach the
medieval city of Santiago de Compostela where both ancient and modern traditions
are commemorated. As worldwide interest in pilgrimage tourism grows, more people
have become able to experience this unique part of Spanish history.
Carnival groups, street parties, concerts, giant papiérmâché heads and fireworks
are the main highlights of this week-long event.