Published June 29, 2012
Thousands of people took part Friday in the Haro Wine Battle in the Spanish Rioja region, during which they threw at each other in mock combat some 6,000 liters of wine, along with the tools and utensils used in their fermentation.
The traditional "battle" is celebrated annually on June 29 to commemorate a real conflict in medieval times between the inhabitants of the city of Haro and the adjacent town of Miranda de Ebro over possession of the Riscos de Bilibio, part of a small mountain chain.
According to a ruling by the kingdom of Castille in 1290, Haro's inhabitants were required to re-stake their claim to the Riscos every June 29th in order to maintain ownership.
In the 1940s, visitors to the region - after eating and drinking their fill - began the ritual by throwing wine at each other in a brotherly "battle."
This year local authorities found their expectations surpassed by the great number of participants - between 6,000 and 8,000 - many coming from faraway countries like Australia, Japan, Holland and elsewhere.
Social networks have spread the word about this festival, which joins others like the internationally famous tomato food fight, the "Tomatina," organized in August in the town of Buñol in the eastern Spanish province of Valencia, that is attended by thousands of people from around the world.