The carnival usually includes around 50 masked men or Vijaneras, but Sunday January 4th’s celebrations included around 130, according to the Spanish Huffington Post.
The greater number of participants could be thanks to the work of the Asociación de Amigos de la Vijanera which has been in charge of organizing and promoting the event since it’s revival after being banned under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.
La Vijanera dates from pre-Roman times and celebrates the end of winter and changing of the seasons with a cast of wacky characters, all played by men, including the Madame (la Madama), the Gentleman (el Caballero), the Doctor (el Médico) and the Old Woman (la Vieja).
Some of the most famous participants are the Zarramacos, who dress in sheepskin and wear tall, conical hats. They jingle cowbells which are tied to their bodies to ward off evil spirits from the coming year.
One of the main characters is the bear (El Oso), a youngster dressed in sheep skin who symbolizes winter. The celebrations end with the symbolic killing of the bear marking the end of winter and the ushering in of spring.