It all began on the last Wednesday of August in the year 1945. A group of teenagers were watching the festivities and parades of the gigantes y cabezudos (carnival puppets with enormous heads) in the Town Square. They decided to try to join the parade of musicians and gigantes y cabezudos. One of the parade’s participants got angry as a result of the teenagers’ actions, and started to hit everything in his path. The crowd then also became furious, and in a twist of fate, they took tomatoes from a nearby vegetable stall and began to throw them at one another. This continued until law and order was restored and the vegetable battle had to stop.
The following year, that same group of teenagers volunteered to re-enact the altercation, and even brought tomatoes with them from home. These teenagers had no idea that they were making an important part of history in doing so. However, over the following few years, the police broke up this new tradition, and the tomato battle was forbidden throughout the 1950s. Despite arrests being made, people did not give up their attempts to keep this tradition alive.
As a result, the powers that be held discussions, and the festivity was allowed to recommence. This time it took place with an increased number of participants, making it more and more frantic. However, this did not last for long, and in 1957, the festivity was cancelled once again. As a result of this cancellation, protestors organised a “tomato burial” in which people paraded a large tomato in a coffin through the streets, to the sound of a live band playing the Funeral March. The parade had its desired effect – the Tomatina was permitted once more, and even became an official festivity.
Thanks to a nationwide news report by Javier Brasilio on Informe Semanl (Spanish State TV Channel) in 1983, the festivity became known throughout the rest of Spain. This made it become more popular across the whole country. Since then, word has spread throughout the world, and the number of participants in The Tomatina has continued to grow each year. The enthusiasm for The Tomatina continues to become more and more widespread as participants come to Buñol from all corners of the globe to celebrate the festivities on the last Wednesday of August ever year.