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Agriculture and cattle breeding-particularly pasture breeding -have been the economic activities which mostly influenced the way of life of the people of the Martín river. Indeed, the life of the rural society of the Cultural Park of the Martín river took shape around the agricultural and livestock cycles.

Men started to organize celebrations based on their work, economic activities, seasons and weather. Everything became related to "day-by-day" life and "celebrations," until the Church itself began respecting the agricultural cycles of seeding, harvesting and cattle breeding. The Church's endorsement included thanksgiving rituals for harvests, requests for land fertility and protection for domestic animals , necessary for the development of a traditional rural society. The Center of Interpretation of People's Culture in Albalate del Arzobispo, outlines these two aspects of "work and celebrations."

Some examples can be found in a series of celebrations and symbolic acts like the winter celebrations , whose rites are based on the farewell to winter, and celebrating the arrival of spring, "el crecer del día" (the day becoming longer) and the return to agricultural activity. This cycle would begin with St. Antoine and the Saint Martyrs - Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian - and end on February 14 with St. Valentine and describes the traditional saying " Para San Antón (17 de enero) crece el día un pasico de ratón, Para Santa María (2 de febrero) hora y media crece el día, para San Blas (3 de febrero) un poquico más " [literally, "by St. Antoine (January 17) the day makes a small mouse step, by Saint Mary (February 2) the day gains one and a half hours and by St. Blaise (February 3) a little bit more"] or the saying referring to the first days of February, " el primero hace día, el segundo Santa María, el tercero San Blas, el cuatro nada y el quinto Santa Águeda. "

Here the winter ends, the day becomes longer and the fieldwork has to be prepared asking the Saints and gods for assistance. That gave origin to a purifying rite widespread in most villages of the Martín river, consisting in lighting fires at the entrance of the villages and illuminating the images of the Saints there present on pillars and open chapels. In this way, the population asks the Saint Martyrs (Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian) and Saint Antoine for help and protection against the plague, both for animals - the main source of the family economy - and humans.

On St. Blaise's (patron saint of wool carders) day, pastries are blessed and should be eaten to protect the throat. On St. Agatha's day, the humble and working women ring the bells and take control of the village singing " A Santa Águeda bendita (o sagrada) le venimos a cantar, pa que nos guarde la teta y el tetón al sacristán " and dancing in a circle, hand in hand, in the square of the village. The Saint protects women during delivery and lactation, thus relating her patronage to fertility. The cycle ends with St. Valentine, originally a celebration for shepherds in honour of Saint Faun, for the fertility of fields and flocks, and which was gradually associated to the celebration of two roman martyrs called Valentine, patron of lovers, and thus the celebration of the end of the winter and the return to life and land fertility.

During Easter week, Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are of particular importance. The tradition of the blessing of palms and olive tree branches is still preserved. The processions during the Easter week are respected throughout the whole area, and are remarkable in Albalate del Arzobispo in particular, due to the magnificent scene and the immense noise of the drums. This village is included in the famous Ruta del Tambor y el Bombo (Route of Drum and Bass-Drum) of lower Aragon.

Lastly, are the spring celebration pilgrimages to the sanctuaries situated in the Park or in nearby areas, where the people from this region say goodbye to the spring, with great fervour and devotion, thanking for the seeding and, if the weather has been good, " marzo ventoso abril lluvioso" ( literally, "windy March, rainy April").

On Easter Monday, the people from Oliete and the surrounding villages meet for the pilgrimage to the Saint Peter's hermitage (ermita de San Pedro) and the Virgen del Cantal hermitage . On May 22, Montalbán celebrates the pilgrimage to the Santa Quiteria hermitage in Peñarroyas. Nowadays the hermitage is in ruins. Torre de las Arcas celebrates the Virgin of Oto pilgrimage in June . In the same month, on the occasion of the Whitsun, most of the villages of the Cultural Park celebrate the pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Olivar (santuario de Ntra. Sra. del Olivar) in Estercuel, together with people from nearby regions. On Quasimodo Monday and the following Sunday is the pilgrimage to the Virgin of Arcos' sanctuary (santuario de la Virgen de Arcos) in Albalate del Arzobispo.

 

OTTHER IMPORTANT CELEBRATIONS

Some Saint days are also celebrated in a special way in the Cultural Park . One example is St. Isidor farmer (May 15), observed in procession to the cultivated land in order to bless the fields and wish good harvests. On St. John 's day (June 24), in some villages, people used to go down to the river and wash their faces at 12 pm, while the bells were ringing, a tradition still observed by the elderly. During the celebration of the Virgen "de la Cama" (representing the Virgin Mary, and on August 15), in some villages, two young unmarried women distribute little blessed basil bunches - planted and carefully grown by their families - among the people attending the mass, and take care of the Virgin throughout the year. Eight days later, they are replaced by another pair of young virgins. On Saint Barbara's (December 4) day, the Saint is asked for help in order to protect the miners, especially in those villages where the mining activity characterized the local economy from the first third of the past century, when the first lignite mines were exploited in the area. Nowadays this is of particular importance in Ariño.

Another significant day is the Corpus Christi day, usually celebrated between the end of May and the beginning of June. During the procession, 4 men carry the baldachin, and accompany the priest who carries the Corpus Christi or "the Holy," as people refer to it in this area. Flower petals line the streets and mark the way for the procession, which passes several altars in squares and portals.

 
THE PATRONAL FEASTS: SUMMER CELEBRATIONS

In the summer, after harvesting, most villages celebrate their patrons-the celebrations usually coinciding with the weekend, in order to allow for the return to the village of the many people who emigrated for work. A round the second weekend of September, Montalbán celebrates the Virgin of the Castle (Virgen del Castillo) and Saint Faustus, while the first weekend of September are the Angel or bachelors' celebrations. Around August 15, Peñarroyas honours Saint Roque . From August 8 to 12, it is Torre de las Arcas 's turn with Saint Michael. The celebrations of the Virgin are in Obón on August 15. Officially, St. Augustine in Alcaine falls on August 28, but it is traditionally celebrated the weekend before. St. Bartholomew is celebrated on August 24, and the Virgin of Cantal (Virgen del Cantal) and the exaltation of the Santa Cruz is celebrated from September 13 to 16 in Oliete . St. Roque is celebrated on August 15, and St. Michael on September 29, in Alacón . St. Salvador and St. Roque are celebrated in Ariño, around August 15. Albalate del Arzobispo ends the celebration period during the last week of September, in honor of the Virgin of Arcos (Virgen de Arcos).

The clothes of the men and women of the Cultural Park of the Martín river are based on the weather, the needs of the area, everyday work, commemorative occasions and celebrations, and also depend on sex, age and social status. It is for this reason that there is not single traditional clothing.

 
 
 
PARQUE CULTURAL RÍO MARTÍN.- C/ Tiro del Bolo, s/n 44547 ARIÑO (Teruel)
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