Archive image of 'Día de los Polvos' in Tolox
Archive image of 'Día de los Polvos' in Tolox / SUR

‘Powder-throwing’ from home - pandemic won’t stop Carnival in Tolox

  • Organisers hope to celebrate village’s traditions virtually this year

Pandemic restrictions will not put a stop to the annual Carnival in the village of Tolox in Malaga Province. The local council has organised a celebration with a difference this year, which culminates in ‘Powder Day’ on Tuesday 16th February. Residents will be able to take part online and to share their photos and videos of the celebration on social media. The photo that receives the most shares and comments will win a yet to be determined prize.

A tradition stretching back to at least the 19th Century, ‘Powder Day’ takes place the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. On this day, village residents throw talcum powder at each other in what is seen as an act of friendship between the people. This year, things will look slightly different, as people will ‘powder’ each other in their own houses. However, Jerónimo Macías, a cultural spokesperson for the council, commented that this was actually the original way the event was celebrated.

Macías also underlined that, as one of the oldest recognised cultural events in the province, the council “did not want to lose out on this year” despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic. In addition to the photo contest, several other competitions will take place to encourage the “creativity” of the locals. These will include costume-making and an event on traditional dances, along with one on song-writing. Prizes will be worth up to 150 euros, and those interested will be able to send their creations to the local council. A panel will then decide on the winners.

In years gone by, young men in the village would throw flour at their girlfriends as a proposal of marriage. Girls who did not wish to be covered in flour would stay in their homes, causing the men to come up with creative solutions to reach their targets, with some even climbing up chimneys and removing window bars.

However, some say that the tradition actually stems back a lot further, to the 16th Century. Supposedly, a Moorish girl and a Christian girl- both in love with the same man- got into an argument. They both worked in a bakery and, eventually, things got so heated that they began to throw flour at each other.

Whatever the origins, the festival has evolved into something representing community togetherness, and now talcum powder is generally the ‘weapon’ of choice. In normal circumstances, traditional music and dance accompanies the powder-throwing, which takes place around the main square of the village.

Regarding this year’s event, the village mayor said: “It’s a unique way of celebrating the traditions and culture of our village and will help residents take their minds off the pandemic for a while”.