The Jug Game. Montejaque. February. Unique Festival
This festival has been declared to be of Tourist Interest by the Provincial Council of Málaga.
Please check with the local Town Hall or Municipal Tourism Office for the festival date before planning any sightseeing activities.
Montejaque is a municipality nestled between the Ronda region and the Sierra de Grazalema mountain range in Cádiz, overlooking the Guadiaro Valley from the foot of the Hacho rocky areas. Given its unbeatable location in a natural environment on the western edge of Málaga province stretching along the valley of Guadiaro River and the Sierra de Líbar range, this is one of the most beautiful municipalities in the Serranía de Ronda region.
Hidden among rocks, it is not easy to catch sight of this traditional white village. Hence the name “Montexaquez” (“Lost Mountain” in Arab). A soothing breeze blows down from the Lost Mountain peaks, making it pleasant to hang out in the town's square, where almost everything occurring in the locality takes place.
Before the introduction of running water into Montejaque in the 1960s, local women were to go back and forth through the steep, narrow streets carrying mud jugs to the principal public watering place so they could supply their families. To avoid repeated comings and goings, they would fill two jugs up to the top to keep the water from drifting and spilling out. Despite already carrying a flagon on their head—with just a handkerchief or braided cloth for protection— and the second one placed on the right side of the body, some women would even dare to take an extra container on their left hand.
Now that jugs are not meant for water-carrying purposes anymore, they have shaped the popular customs by playing a vital role in the municipality's festivities. The game consists of a flagon being flown to a cross-marked circle in the middle of the square, where several teams made of six or as many people as there are jugs take positions. The flagon is passed around and, if it remains undamaged, the circle is made bigger making the game more and more challenging. People are gradually getting knocked out of the game as they break the jug.
Steeped in tradition, the competition's growing popularity is such that it is no surprise to witness “the crowds going to the square and chucking jugs at each other’s heads” during other events.
A rather strange tradition is celebrated in Montejaque during the carnival period. It is related to the water supply to the villages that, up until a few years ago, depended on the local women going back and forth with water jars to the main public watering place, as the water pipes were only installed in the recent history of the village. In the old days the women used to try to carry as much water in one go as possible so as not to have to return to the watering lace very five minutes. This meant that they used to put one water jar on their heads and then carry one on either side of their bodies pressed against their sides.
This constant coming and going to fetch water gave a lot of life to the village as people used to meet each other either on the trip to and from the watering place or while they were filling their jars. It was, therefore, a place where people would share the village gossip.
When the mains water supply was set up in the 60’s this activity was lost overnight. In order to recuperate this tradition, the Local authority decided to organise the “Juego del cantaro”, which is no more than a repetition of what used to go on in the village to collect water, but now as a kind of fun RACE. Teams Are formed and they have to transport jars of water through the streets against each other and the jars often go flying all over the place. This is held at carnival time to give it even more of a fun feeling to it.