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The Virgin del Carmen. Patroness of Malaga's fishermen

Málaga pays homage to "The Star of the Seas" every July 16th

She's called "The Star of the Seas", and it's fair to say the name fits, especially given the attention she garners. Who are we talking about? The Virgin del Carmen, of course.

More specifically, we're going to chat about the seafaring festivities celebrated in her honour in Málaga, mainly on July 16th, her feast day, although in some neighbourhoods the celebrations take place the following week.

It's in the seaside neighbourhoods, like El Palo, Pedregalejo or Huelin, where this celebration is most warmly embraced.

This is one of Málaga's most important traditional festivals due to its maritime heritage, as the Virgin del Carmen is the patroness of fishermen and sailors, and of course, it's also a fitting occasion to honour those brave souls who lost their lives at sea.

In July, our Virgin del Carmen takes to the sea, carried on a jábega, blessing the waters. The carriers don traditional seafaring attire: a white shirt, black trousers, espadrilles (some go barefoot), and a red sash.

The jábega is accompanied by small boats carrying numerous locals. Later, there is a procession through the streets. And this is one of the most unique features: the Virgin's throne is carried both by land and sea.

Historical records trace the origins of this celebration back to Israel, specifically to Mount Carmel. Faced with the prophecy of a severe drought, scriptures tell of the prophet Elijah promising God that King Ahab and his people would abandon the god Baal in exchange for ending the drought, and he climbed the Mount repeatedly to see if his promise had effect.

On the seventh climb, he saw "a cloud as small as a man's hand". Soon after, the sky darkened with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. From this connection with Elijah, many devotees went to Mount Carmel to venerate the site, and there the Order of Carmelites was born. Fascinating, isn't it?

Of course, this celebration offers us an opportunity to, besides showing our love and devotion to one of Málaga's most beloved patronesses, enjoy the incredible atmosphere: let's not forget it's in the middle of the Malaga summer!

Moreover, if we're in the neighbourhood of El Palo, we can enjoy the fair held around the same dates, featuring a wide array of attractions and live performances.

Undoubtedly, we can also savour one of the stars of summer: los espetos, because, in the words of many locals, the tastiest time for sardines is "from Virgin to Virgin", that is, from July, around the feast we're discussing, until September, when the Virgen de la Victoria is celebrated.

So, we have a winning combination for a spectacular evening: enjoy one of Málaga's most traditional festivals and the joy of its people and its beaches. Tuck into some delicious espetos by the sea and, if we're up for more, enjoy the fair.

Can you think of a better summer plan?

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