All the city
Date varies from end of February to beginning of March, on the three days before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent (forty days before Holy Week).
Also called “Antroido” or “Entroido”, denoting the beginning of Lent in the Galician language, the Galician Carnival features the typical values of this end-of-winter fiesta with strong ancestral roots. The date varies throughout February or the beginning of March.
Although some of the celebrations that were held at this time have disappeared from cities, the Carnival is still alive. In relation to gastronomy, it is a time for eating meat: in view of the upcoming abstention imposed by the religious calendar, attention is centred on “lacón” (ham from the foreleg), chorizos and “cacheiras” (salted pig’s heads, typical in Galicia at this time), which, along with “grelos” (the Galician name for turnip greens) and potatoes, make up the region’s most typical dish called “caldo Gallego” (Galician stew). This is also the time of “filloas” (savoury creppes made from wheat flour and lard) and, as regards desserts, of “orejas” (dough made from flour, eggs, water and salt, and deep fried).
The fiesta’s fancy-dress tradition has also survived. Santiago’s flair for masks, makeup and costumes is reflected in the Mardi Gras parade, which features floats and street bands made up of neighbours and friends that go around the city.
When Ash Wednesday -which marks the end of the Carnival and the beginning of Lent- arrives, a satirical parade is held that ends with the burning of “Meco” (an effigy representing the Carnival) in one of the city’s squares (traditionally O Toural square). This Compostela symbol changes every year to represent a highly topical subject, full of ironical connotations.
The natural region of Val do Ulla (Santiago de Compostela: Marrozos, Aríns and O Eixo) features an original rural carnival, whose record goes back to the mid-19th century. The most important characters are the "xenerais" (generals) and "correos" (dispatch riders) on horseback, who go around the parishes throughout the day, "cheering" residents and visitors, accompanied by an "army" of standard bearers, choirs and carnival groups. They finish by staging an "atranque" or "alto", a dialectic confrontation in pairs, which is used to make fun of local, political or social affairs from the previous year.