About the Feria in Jerez

Horse enthusiasts flock to this Andalusian town for one reason: to appreciate and celebrate the Iberian horses that are a part of southern Spain's culture. During the weeklong fair, wine flows and flamenco pageantry abounds, but the passion of the Andalusian people for their horses is most evident, making the equine the true star. There are choices to make, as simultaneous shows and exhibitions compete for your interest. Around the city, you may view cross-country and endurance events, vaulting, carriage races, and classical dressage and Doma Vaquera competitions. The exhibition hall on the fairgrounds is packed with stalls filled with highly bred local horses. Take in one of the halter classes or discuss purchase options with proud stallion owners. Rows of booths will beckon you with the fine leather products as well as artwork, riding clothes, and everything Andalusian. 

Gonazalez Hontoria park, constructed in 1902 to host the fair, is the social hub where drinking, dancing, and dining take place in rows of "casetas", temporary houses that line the parade area. The steady flow of hundreds of colorful horse drawn carriages and immaculately groomed horses and riders is a welcoming atmosphere for the Baroque horse enthusiast. Spanish Barbs, Friesians, and Iberian crosses join the mix. The fact that most of these well-behaved horses are stallions seems incredible, and speaks as much to the Spanish stallion-rearing practices as it does to the temperament of their stock. 

Before dark, the horses are ridden home or trotted down the busy streets to the overnight facilities at the state owned Stallion Depot. But the park's massive and brilliantly colored overhead lights ensure that the party continues all night. Men exchange their Doma Vaquero riding clothes for well-tailored European suits, and women proudly stroll in skin-tight flamenco dresses. The music pulses while young and old strut their stuff- the gaiety and pageantry truly an Andalusian experience.

History of Ferias

Feria, (Latin for "free day") was a day on which the people, especially the slaves, were not obliged to work, and on which there were no court sessions. In ancient Rome the feriae publicae, legal holidays, were either stativae, recurring regularly (e.g. the Saturnalia), conceptivae, i.e. movable, or imperativae, i.e. appointed for special occasions.

When Christianity spread, on the feriae (feasts) instituted for worship by the Church, the faithful were obliged to attend Mass; such assemblies gradually led, for reasons both of necessity and convenience, to mercantile enterprise and market gatherings which the Germans call Messen, and the English fairs. They were fixed on saints' days (e.g. St. Barr's fair, St. Germanus's fair, St. Wenn's fair, etc.)

In the Roman Rite liturgy, the term feria is used to denote days of the week other than Sunday and Saturday. Various reasons are given for this terminology. The sixth lesson for December 31 in the pre-1971 Roman Breviary says that Pope St. Silvester ordered the continuance of the already existing custom "that the clergy, daily abstaining from earthly cares, would be free to serve God alone". Others believe that the Church simply Christianized a Jewish practice. The Jews frequently counted the days from their Sabbath, and so we find in the Gospels such expressions as una Sabbati and prima Sabbati, the first from the Sabbath. The early Christians reckoned the days after Easter in this fashion, but, since all the days of Easter week were holy days, they called Easter Monday, not the first day after Easter, but the second feria or feast day; and since every Sunday is the dies Dominica, a lesser Easter day, the custom prevailed to call each Monday a feria secunda, and so on for the rest of the week. The only modern language that preserves fully this Latin ecclesiastical style of naming weekdays is Portuguese, which uses the terms segunda-feira, etc. Greek uses very similar terms, but without the Latin-derived feira.

Today a day on which no saint is celebrated is called a feria (and the celebration is referred to as ferial, the adjectival form of feria). The former distinction between major and minor ferias has been abandoned. The major, which required at least a commemoration even on the highest feasts, were the ferias of Advent and Lent, the Ember days, and the Monday of Rogation week; the others were called minor. In the present arrangement, certain ferias, especially those of Lent, rank higher than memorials, though the prayer of the memorial may be used in place of that of the feria. Ash Wednesday and Holy Week exclude any celebration of a saint, whether classified at the level of memorial, of feast or even of solemnity.





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