The Village Where They Pelt a Man in a Monster Costume With 30 Tons of Turnips

15 April 2019


It’s a frigid winter morning in the remote mountain village of Piornal, Spain, and there is mischief afoot. The main road is eerily empty of cars. And everywhere—piled in the front of shops, rolling down gutters, floating in fountains—are turnips. The air is earthy, peppery.

Then the screaming begins. A mob shoves its way down a chute-like street into the main plaza. Close behind is the monster, clad in a suit of colorful rags, almost cute—except for the grin full of fangs and giant devil horns curving skyward. It swaggers forward, banging a drum. More people, by the thousands, pursue, chucking turnips at the monster for all they’re worth. The root vegetables ricochet off its body with astonishing velocity. The first half of the crowd, caught on the wrong side of the action, almost trample each other to avoid broken noses and black eyes. Then the monster stumbles toward a building and leans back against it. Their prey is now an easy target. Now the turnips really fly.

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