While the world is still recovering from the joyful chaos of Christmas, Spain has another festive day lined up just a few days later: “Día de los Inocentes” or “Day of the Holy Innocents” on December 28. It may sound serious, but in reality, it’s a day filled with pranks, jokes, and laughter reminiscent of April Fools’ Day.
This tradition originated from the fusion of pagan and Christian beliefs. Día de los Inocentes has its roots in a dark historical event. It commemorates the biblical story of King Herod, who ordered the massacre of all male infants in Bethlehem in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus. In Spanish-speaking countries, this day is a time to remember the innocent victims of that cruel act.
However, over time, the holiday has transformed into a lighthearted and comical celebration, much like April Fools’ Day in other parts of the world. People play practical jokes on friends, family, and even strangers, all in good spirits.
The tradition of pranks on this day can be traced back to the Middle Ages when church altar boys would mock Christian rituals. Another similar festival during that time, the Feast of Fools, may have also influenced the tradition of pranks on the Day of the Holy Innocents. Over time, the focus shifted from symbolizing the massacre to playing pranks on friends and family.
Classic Pranks and Traditions
Here are some classic pranks and traditions associated with Día de los Inocentes in Spain:
1. Fake News
Spanish newspapers and media outlets often publish fake news stories on this day. It’s a tradition for them to create imaginative and often hilarious headlines, and people enjoy trying to spot the absurdities.
2. The “Inocente, Inocente” TV Show
One of the most anticipated events on Día de los Inocentes is the “Inocente, Inocente” TV show. Airing since 1990, this show raises funds for various charitable causes while showcasing elaborate pranks and gags played on celebrities and politicians. The Gala Inocente, Inocente 2023 aims to help children with rare and undiagnosed diseases in Spain and their families. The show airs at 22:00 h on TV1 and through RTVE Play.
3. “Collejas” or “Pinchazos”
A common prank involves giving someone a “colleja” or a “pinchazo” – a light flick on the back of the neck – while shouting “Inocente, Inocente!” The unsuspecting victim then becomes the “innocent” of the joke.
4. Fake Lottery Tickets
Fake lottery tickets are a popular prank on this day. They look like real tickets, and the excitement of thinking you’ve won a fortune quickly turns to laughter when the truth is revealed.
5. Media and Corporate Pranks
Even large companies and media outlets get in on the fun. They publish fake advertisements, promotions, or news stories, adding to the general atmosphere of merriment.
A Day of Laughter and Unity
Many Christmas markets in the cities sell various funny items. Additionally, different regions in Spain have their unique celebrations on December 28th. Such as the Festival of the Crazies in Jalance, the Feast of the Holy Innocents in Nogalte, the Dance of the Crazies in Fuente Carreteros, the “Obispillo” in various locations, and the “Festa dels Enfarinats” in Ibi.
Día de los Inocentes is a day when Spaniards come together to share laughter and camaraderie. The pranks and jokes are all in good fun. The common goal is to make each other smile. It’s a reminder that even during winter, a little humor and lightheartedness can go a long way in brightening our days.