SPAIN: La Tomatina is a famous tomato-throwing fight that takes place every August in Spain. Tens of thousands of visitors flock to the city of Buñol to participate. While some say that it is a huge waste of tomatoes, a #funfact is that the acidity of the tomatoes actually cleans all of the streets, which I personally found pretty interesting. To say the least, it is a very unique tradition and an ‘attention-grabbing’ way to start the first semester.
“What is ‘La Tomatina’? Well, it is Spain’s most bizarre festival… ‘the tomato fight’! Legend has it this strange celebration began in the 1940’s in the town of Buñol. One hot summer day a squabble broke out in the town square and quickly developed into a massive brawl. Instead of using their fists, the locals grabbed tomatoes and began throwing them at one another!
Despite all efforts to break it up, the townsfolk found such great satisfaction in squishing the tomatoes that the battle continued well into the night. It was such a ‘smash’ it became an annual event. Today this ‘street fight’ draws locals and visitors from all over the world. The 35,000 participants go through about 50,000 kilos of tomatoes on the last Wednesday of every August! Wow! That sure is a lot of sauce!”Teacher’s Discovery
Gazpacho is a delicious soup from Spain, and the perfect cold tomato dish to enjoy on a hot summer day. One year, third, fourth, and fifth graders took a day to celebrate La Tomatina by making Gazpacho in class. This is the recipe we used. Note that Salmorejo is very similar to Gazpacho, but it contains a few additional ingredients.
Another year, to celebrate and reenact the day sans actual tomatoes (someone had allergies), fourth graders made catapults out of Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and hot glue, and launched decorative, lightweight balls at G.I. Joe firemen and LEGO men figurines. This was a great exercise in teambuilding and community to start the year, but did take more than one class period to complete.
Throwing crumpled up pieces of red paper, Dodgeball-style, in two teams can also be an exciting alternative and simulation.