The first fiesta of the year – San Antonio Abad – is surely one of Javea’s most bizarre for newcomers.
This is thanks to its annual blessing for animals in which a priest casts holy water over dogs, horses, donkeys, cats, birds, insects, snakes and more.
While the actual feast day of Saint Anthony is celebrated on 17th January, the Javea festival of San Antonio Abad usually starts a week in advance.
Also read: Javea Festivals
When is the San Antonio Abad festival in Javea?
A week leading up to 17th January.
Where is the San Antonio Abad festival in Javea?
Festivities take place mainly in the old town, but there is also a blessing for animals in the port of Javea.
What’s the highlight of the San Antonio Abad festival in Javea?
Watching a priest spray animals with holy water in the Plaza de la Constitución in the old town by the Playa de la Grava in the port of Javea.
The festival of San Antonio Abad in Javea
So the story goes, San Antonio de Padua was challenged to prove the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Taking a hungry mule, he placed it before a basket of hay and an image of Jesus. When the mule was released it wandered over towards the presence of God – ever since, San Antonio has been a patron saint of animals, among many other things.
But the link between San Antonio and animals has become deeply rooted in Spain.
In Javea and thousands of towns across the country, the feast day of Saint Anthony features a priest offering blessings to animals in the town. During the Javea festival, the event takes place in the Plaza de la Constitución and a few days later in the port area on 17th January.
Festival of San Antonio Abad leading up to 17th January
But the festivities start up to a week earlier – either on a Wednesday or a Saturday – with the traditional Crema del Pi (burning of the pine) in which a pine tree is burned in the Plaza de San Antonio car park.
The following Sunday sees parades of animals pass through the following streets: calle San Antonio, San Joaquín, Ronda Sur, Avda. Amanecer, Avda. de los Fueros, Toni Llidó, Avda. Jaime I, Plaza Presidente Adolfo Suárez, Cristo del Mar, Juan Carlos I, Cervantes, Avda. de Alicante, Ronda Norte, Príncipe de Asturias, San Juan Bautista and the Plaza de la Constitución.
In this final destination, the priest will bless any animals who pass before him with holy water.
But this isn’t all.
Feast day of San Antonio Abad
The Avenida de Palmela near the Javea old town typically holds a funfair – one of these days, on the Dia del Niño, features specially low prices.
Finally, on the 17th January, there is a second blessing in the port of Javea. The day typically begins with processions and traditional music through the streets before a solemn mass at the Mare de Deu de Loreto church.