Thursday, December 20, 2012

Harvest Time in Spain

My husband's grandparents were born in small villages in Spain.  Sometime after the Spanish Civil War they all moved to Madrid.  When we visit, we stay in Madrid, but sometimes we visit cousins who still live in those small villages.  His paternal side lives near Aranda de Duero in the province of Burgos, in the rich wine region known as "El Duero", near Rioja.  His maternal side lives in Salamanca, in tiny villages along the Portuguese border with names like Villar de Ciervo and Puerto Seguro.

While my mother in law was growing up in Madrid, they would sometimes visit the villages.  The most popular time for visiting would be August, when the harvest fiestas would be taking place.  Often there would be a bullfight and other very Spanish festivities in honor of the village patron saint.  The harvest would be going on, which was described to me as "La trilla", which took some figuring out to translate with out a dictionary.  In English this would be "the threshing" of the wheat.  Of course, grapes and other crops would be harvested at this time, too, but there seemed to be lots of photos of the threshing.

A picnic during the harvest
near Villar de Ciervo, Salamanca, Spain, 1940s

Hungry men cooking in the fields

My husband's great aunt during the threshing
at Puerto Seguro, 1950s

My mother-in-law with her family at Puerto Seguro
sometime in the 1940s- four generations!

Puerto Seguro harvest time 1940s

These photos are a great example of family reunions, even though in Spain it was not considered a formal gathering.  It was just an annual event, and in the 20th century folks who had moved to the cities came back to the "pueblo" to reconnect at harvest time.  This reminds me very much of Old Home Day in New Hampshire.  These photos were scattered through my mother-in-laws photo album.  I had to pick through the more formal portraits, weddings, school photos and first communions, to find these precious photographs.  It was great discussing them with my mother-in-law and husband to find out what was going on in the photos, and identifying the family members.

If you have family or ancestry in foreign countries, perhaps you have found similar photos?

And so we continue to visit Spain in August!
This is my daughter in 2002 near Puerto Seguro,
in the tiny town of Villar de la Yegua.

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Wonderful family photographs--treasures, really.

  2. These are wonderful indeed, Heather. How special for you to have such interesting family photos, showing you so much of their lives.