Updated: Feb 26
Zaragoza gets another one of those random bank holiday fiestas on the 5th of March. It's all about laughing at a man for not having enough time to drink his hot chocolate....no....it really is....
So this is a Mexican fiesta isn't?
What are you talking about? This is exclusive to Zaragoza...I believe you are thinking of Cinco de Mayo
Yep, my bad....so what is this one all about....?
It is a festival to celebrate the uprising of the people of Zaragoza against the potential invasion of the Carlista army on March 5th 1838.
So this is the wars of succession...not the Peninsular war against Napoleon with the Sieges of Zaragoza?
That is it. Zaragoza is obviously in a strategic position and was garrisoned by liberal troops. The Carlista army was believed to be a good distance away so the garrison was reduced in February to send reserves to assist against Basilio Garcia. The intel reached the Carlistas that Zaragoza was only lightly defended so Juan Cabañero and Esponera were despatched to take control of the city with 2800 infantrymen and 300 cavalry. It seems the intention was to plunder the city as this is not considered enough men to hold it.
But did they not know their history? The people of Zaragoza are a hardy lot. They saw off the Napoleonic army using just friendly tone of greeting!
It is true that the population of the city had repelled the Napoleonic army and their allies the Polish, in a bloody siege that was to become an iconic cultural focal point. General Palafox became a national hero alongside Augustina of Aragon who charged forward to fire the cannon of her dead lover into the oncoming French breaking the charge.
Crikey this is stirring stuff...
Yet only twenty years later, it seems the Maños were once again to demonstrate their defiance and were in no mood to surrender.
So what went down?
The Carlista forces arrived on the night of March 5th and looked set to take control of the city using swift surprise. Yet the civilian population responded in defiance, started an immediate resistance in the streets armed with knives, field tools or hunting weapons. Women threw furniture and boiling water or oil from windows. The Carlista army then got wind of rumours of the return of the garrison and turned and fled.
Go the Maños and Mañas!
Yes, interestingly, the city was honoured by having the words "always heroic" (Siempre Heroica) emblazoned on the laurel border of the city coat of arms. There is obviously Calle Cinco de Marzo in the city centre and Calle Capitán Esponera close to Puerta Del Carmen where the Carlista army had entered the city.
Great, all cool. Now why do the Maños gather in Parque del Tío Jorge then?
Cabañero had an uncle? No idea....The festival was celebrated in various city parks until eventually returning to Tio Jorge park annually. Franco did ban the festival but the people of Zaragoza were swift to bring back the tradition from 1978 onwards.
Ok. Now you mentioned Hot Chocolate. What is that all about? Did the women throw hot chocolate out their windows too?
Well, the story goes that the Hot chocolate in Zaragoza is a local delicacy and Cabañero had ordered a cup to enjoy upon entering the city, but the resistance was so swift he never had a chance to taste it.
No sobremesa for you Cabañero!
Well quite, but the story does not end there. By 1840 Cabañero had switched sides and arrived in Zaragoza with the Liberal army to fight Cabrera. As he travelled through the city, the people of Zaragoza taunted him, shouting "Cabañero, your chocolate has gone cold now!"
So what happens on 5th March then?
Drinking....and eating Roscon....
I thought Roscon was for San Valero?
Yeah, but it tastes great and why let it go to waste?
Good point, well made,
There are cultural events, communal eating and drinking etc, but a lot of people gather for a family meal as is the Maño want on a holiday.