The Feast of Corpus Christi also known as Corpus Domini, is a Latin Rite liturgical solemnity celebrating the tradition and belief in the body and blood of Jesus Christ and his Real Presence in the Eucharist. It emphasizes the joy of the institution of the Eucharist, which was observed on Holy Thursday in the somber atmosphere of the nearness of Good Friday.
The date for celebration is not fixed. It varies according to the date of Easter. In 2013 Corpus Christi will be celebrated on the 30th of May. The most common way of celebrating Corpus Christi is a procession through cities and towns. But each place has some other traditions that accompany the procession.
Everywhere you turn you can't miss the aromatic smell the heather or eucalyptus. The cities and towns at the the Sierra de Cádiz mountains in the southern part of Spain are preparing to host the Corpus Christi festivities. These festivities have been celebrated since the 15th century as a national holiday. In the city Zahara de la Sierra every building façade, alleys and corners, are decorated with ton of flowers and sedge, and a gilded repository studded with emeralds is processed through the streets. This year the Sunday of Corpus Christi will take place on June 2, 2013.
The festivities in Zahara are know for their decoration, especially for their decorated streets. On Friday, a large group of volunteers set out to look for sedge that is used to cover the floor of the main street, and on Saturady people use eucalyptus branches, heather, oleander and different aromatic plants to cover the façades of the buildings.
On Sunday, the day of Corpus Christi, locals start showing off their decorating skills at 7 am in the morning. They decorate the building façades and the balconies with all the plants they have collected. Everyone is helping the the residents who live on the main street, while they all enjoying the flavor of the festivities.
The religious side of the day culminates with the Mass and the procession of the Repository made out of gilded silver and emeralds, but the spotlight is on the children who celebrate their First Holy Communion.
Under the open-air, on Saturday the festival features a local band performing under the marquee which is set up by the Town Council. The music continues until the early hours of that Monday morning. On the second day of the celebrations a traditional contest is taken place. The contest is all about making the best "cachiporras" a unique instrument made out of sedge that will have the best aesthetics and loudest sound, which will receives a cash prize.
With only 17 kilometers away from Zahara de la Sierra in the small village of El Gastor, locals use music as the main feature to celebrate these festivities which go back in time to the days of the pagan to the era of Al-Andalus.
In El Gastor, the activities begin on Friday May 3rd, when a group of over 200 people are sent to the city of El Cuervo (Seville) to look for sedge. People start decorating the streets at 7pm on Saturday evening, until the early hours of the morning. The oleander and branches of eucalyptus, poplars and black poplars are collected by the town’s inhabitants, even though the Council is entrusted with distributing the greenery to those local residents who didn't help.
As the city transform into a true green forest for the weekend the city of El Gastor is ready for the celebrations which end with a contest of Gastor bagpipe a native instrument on Sunday evening. This contest has attracted the attention of the bagpipe players of Galicia, a different region of Spain. Although it is a requirement to be a local, in previous years few Galician bagpipe players took part in the contest and were able to play the famous bagpipe instrument.