CASAVIEJA, Spain — Every spring they come from towns across central and northwestern Spain, clad in elaborate costumes — some as trees, others as bears, still others as monsters who could have emerged from some sort of fever dream.
First they attend local festivals, often timed to coincide with celebrations of spring. They parade through narrow streets in masks with horns and manes, multicolored conical hats, sheepskins and cowbells.
The festivals' origins are for the most part vague and their titles — such as the "Cucurrumachos" in Navalosa town or the "Zarramaches" in the village of Casavieja — more often than not untranslatable.
Then, they converge on one town, a different one each year, for a special event to showcase characters from the various festivals. The idea is to promote the festivals to help keep the towns' cultural heritage alive.
This year's event, celebrated April 1 in Casavieja, featured the comical hairy bear and "Trapajon" straw figures of "La Vijanera" festival and the "Harramacho," savage-looking characters from the "Cucurrumachos" fiesta.