By Rose Maramba
Photos: Ayuntamiento de Bérchules unless otherwise stated
ROSE: Good morning. Thank you for agreeing to the interview. I know you’re quite busy, what with the approaching Nochevieja en Agosto. But I’d greatly appreciate it if you could give us a little of your time so GUIDEPOST readers could have an insight into the unique Nochevieja in Bérchules.
MAYOR PADILLA: Don’t worry about the time. Fire away.
ROSE: Thank you. When do the celebrations of theNochevieja en Agosto begin and when do they end?
MAYOR: Things begin to warm up as we speak. [This interview was conducted on Thursday, 1 August.] The main event takes place on Saturday. As you probably know already, we celebrate our Nochevieja on the first Saturday of August which, in 2019, is August 3. The day is full of activities: parades with brass bands. In the late afternoon The Three Kings are the focal point of another parade. The midnight campanadas. Concerts. The celebrations don’t stop until the wee hours of Sunday. Check out our website for the complete programming.
ROSE: What benefits does Bérchules obtain from the unseasonal fiesta?
MAYOR: The economic gains are quite significant. Muy grande. It’s not just for us [pride creeps into the mayor’s voice]; the gains spill over to the neighboring villages. But better than the economic gains, the biggest benefit of all is the publicity Bérchules gets. Nochevieja en Agosto has put us on the map, nationally and even internationally.
ROSE: Is Nochevieja en Agosto sustainable? Viable? Does it have a future? Or will it turn out to be a flash in the pan?
MAYOR: Of course Nochevieja en Agosto has a future! Look, we’re now on our 25th year. Because of the proven continuity of our fiesta, we’ve become eligible for the dintinction of Fiesta de Interes Turistico [an honorary distinction given to festivals or events that are interesting from the tourism perspective. Said distinction brings with it a central government subsidy.] And we’re hoinh for it. Not every initiative of every village gets to surviv e a quater of a century and generates so much interest from within the place and outside.
ROSE: Enhorabuena! We heard that in the past people attending the Nochevieja were given free grapes for the campanadas [the twelve strokes of the midnight clock in time with which people eat the grapes to insure good luck in the New Year. A no mean feat]. What’s in store this year?
MAYOR: The grapes will be there. Everybody will get a copita of anis. Also some polvoron cakes and mantecados [poundcakes]. You know why precisely these two cakes?
ROSE: I’m afraid not.
MAYOR: Because they’re Holiday Season’s specialties in Spain.
ROSE: I see. They add authentic flavor to the Nochevieja. What would be your message to the natives and the foreigners joining the celebration?
MAYOR: That our people and foreign friends will enjoy the fiesta immensely, that the atmosphere will be truly festive, and may cordiality and friendship reign. It’s a brief and simple message but straight from the heart.
ROSE: Thank you for yur time and all the information you’ve shared with us. Good luck! Maybe we could join the Nochevieja celebrations next year. Nochevieja en Agosto sounds exciting. It has the makings of a unique experience.
MAYOR: We hope to see you here!