The Festival of Tradition, a Gaucho Festival for Gauchos
The Festival of Tradition in San Antonio de Areco is one of the main Gaucho celebrations in Argentina, which takes place every year in November and celebrates the Gaucho culture in its entirety.
Origins of the Day of Tradition
In July 1926, the gaucho novel, Don Segundo Sombra by Ricardo Güiraldes was published. It was produced by the printing press of Don Francisco Colombo in San Antonio de Areco. Thanks to this, the town took its first step to becoming the guardian of tradition.
During 1939, once the Ricardo Güiraldes Museum and Park had already been inaugurated, the Day of the Tradition was instituted nationally. This was through an initiative by the mayor of San Antonio de Areco, Don José Antonio Güiraldes and the governor from the province of Buenos Aires, Dr. Manuel Fresco. A law decreed it was to be celebrated in San Antonio de Areco and Lujan and in 1984, the provincial legislature added an article to the law decreeing San Antonio de Areco as the permanent head of the Día de la Tradición!
November 10th was then chosen as the date to celebrate Tradition in Argentina, as a way to pay tribute to the writer and poet José Hernandez, the first author of renown to write about gauchos. The poem El Gaucho Martin Fierro recounts the experience and lifestyle of a gaucho who has to defend the borders of his breeding grounds against the incessant attacks from Indigenous people.
The Beginnings of the Festival
The inauguration of the first Tradition Day took place in 1939, with the participation of landowners and gauchos around San Antonio de Areco. Back then, the gaucho parade didn’t yet exist and the Criollo Park didn’t have the equipment and infrastructure it has today. The rodeos, for example, were carried out in front of the public, sometimes right even in the middle of them, with no protection from barriers etc. A small wooden municipal platform was used by “important” people.
The following year, the Festival took place in the city of La Plata but by 1941, it was back in San Antonio de Areco.
The first parades took place around the main square of the village. The gauchos exhibited their finest horses and a wealth of goods made by goldsmiths. With their heads held high, they made their horses piaffe. This was their time to show off their elegance and dexterity on horseback.
At that time, the asado (a selection of meats cooked on a bbq) was served in the kitchen of the old Guerrico hall, near the Arellano square. This was also where they played the guitar and danced. After dark, the party was at its peak in the Plaza Hotel, on the corner of Don Segundo Sombra and Ruiz de Arellano Streets.
A Classic for all Gauchos throughout the Country
These days, the festival still takes place in the historic town center and also now in the heart of the vast Criollo Park where the bravest gauchos compete during the jineteadas (rodeos), which are as dangerous as they are spectacular!
The Festival of Tradition has become a very popular annual festival in Argentina and seeing the different generations of Gauchos parade through the town is a unique sight that is not to be missed!