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THE TRADITIONS OF THE SONSIERRA: ‘LOS PICAOS’

At Bodegas Sonsierra we would like to bring you one of the most deeply rooted and well-known traditions of the Sonsierra: ‘Los Picaos’.  In San Vicente de la Sonsierra every year on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday the followers of the Cofradía de la Santa Vera Cruz, or the Brotherhood of Santa Vera Cruz, also known as ‘Los Picaos’ hold a procession through the streets. This is an ancestral tradition that dates back to the XV Century in which the followers rhythmically strike their own backs with skeins of cotton as a form of penitence. Each ‘Picao’ will whip himself around 800-1000 times. El Práctico (the person responsible for alleviating the wounds) will decide when they must stop whipping themselves, when small bruises start to appear. The Práctico will pierce either side of the lumbar region of the back three times, with a utensil called an ‘esponja’. This consists of a ball of beeswax with six crystals embedded in pairs, so they receive twelve punctures symbolising the number of apostles. After this the follower will whip themselves a few more times, so that the blood that may have accumulated in the area can dissipate and thus avoid further problems.

Afterwards, the aide will cover the follower’s back again and put on a cape. The follower will then go to the headquarters of the brotherhood where a specialist practitioner will treat their wounds with rosemary water and an ointment whose composition is secret and is passed from generation to generation. This is an ancestral tradition and one of the most well-known religious rituals in Spain. There is always something to be discovered in the Sonsierra.

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