When will the Dancing Devils of Corpus Christi 2023 be held?
The Dancing Devils festival always takes place on Corpus Cristi which in 2023 will fall on June 8, 2023. In this celebration, a ritual dance is performed on the streets by the so-called Dancing Devils to worship the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.
Where are the Dancing Devils of Yare?
The festival is celebrated in San Francisco de Yare, home of the Dancing Devils of Yare. The city is located in the state of Miranda, no more than 80 kilometers south of Caracas, Venezuela. San Francisco de Yare (or simply Yare), is located in the northern region of the country, and is the capital of the Simón Bolívar Municipality, which has an estimated population of 40,000 inhabitants.
Dancing Devils of Yare
The Dancing Devils of Yare is a Venezuelan religious festival celebrated in the state of Miranda, Venezuela, specifically in the city of San Francisco de Yare, in Valles del Tuy (Tuy Valleys). This popular festival with over 300 years of history is one of the most important Venezuelan traditions.
“Good triumphs over evil” is the message that the Dancing Devils of Yare remind every year to all who attend this celebration, which is heavily influenced by indigenous, Spanish and African culture. Here we’ll learn more about this holiday that, while celebrated in other states and cities of Venezuela, stands out mainly in Yare.
How is Dancing Devils of Yare celebrated?
The entire celebration of the Dancing Devils takes two days. In the first day, the Devils parade throughout San Francisco de Yare until they reach the town’s church. As they move through the streets, the devils dance to the rhythm of the traditional Yare drums, taking the dance to altars and other religious areas. This scene represents evil challenging good.
The Devils are known for wearing red garments, but the most characteristic feature is the grotesque and colorful masks. Many Devils also carry different accessories for protection, like crosses, rosaries, etc. At night, outside the church, hundreds of people gather to watch the Devils as they perform different rituals and songs until dawn.
The next day, the Devils start another parade, this time heading for the town’s cemetery. There they dance to honor the Devils that have passed, and at the same time, ask permission to start their celebration. After this, the parade returns to the doors of the church, where they will face the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
The symbolism of good triumphing over evil is seen as the masks of the Devils fall to the ground in the presence of Jesus, representing they cannot defeat him. The Devil’s find no other option but to kneel before the image of the Son of God. At this point, the crowd gathers in prayer to ask God for help.
The Dancing Devils of Yare festival represents the journey of these wandering devils as they meet God and decide to challenge him, for which they are defeated and ultimately surrender in faith. The people of San Francisco de Yare and many other states of Venezuela (such as Guárico, Bolívar, Vargas and Carabobo) also hold versions of this festival.
Origins of the Diablos Danzantes de Yare (Dancing Devils of Yare)
Many origins have been attributed to the Dancing Devils of Yare. While none have been confirmed, there are two widely known stories behind this celebration.
The first story is set in the 16th century and tells of a priest who, at that time, realized he did not have a significant number of believers or the money necessary to have a Corpus Christi procession. Faced with this situation, the priest thought: “If there are no believers to carry the Blessed Sacrament, then I’ll just call on the devils.”
Right then, clouds took over the sky, warning of a storm. As lightning struke, devils began to appear in front of the church and enter one by one. This is how the Dancing Devils became a reminder of how evil once invaded the church of San Francisco de Yare.
The second dates back to the middle of the 18th century during colonial times. This story tells of a large number of slaves forced to work on farms, mostly indigenous tribes and black Africans. Drought was one of the main problems for the harvest, a fact that greatly affected the slaves, who would pay with their lives if the harvest was lost due to the shortage of water.
And so, the slaves turned to faith and prayed to their deities for a rain that could save the harvest. Unfortunately, their prayers were not answered. The slaves then turned to Catholic faith –a result of conversion in the colonial era– and decided to pray to the Most Blessed Sacrament, placing their hopes in Jesus.
This way, in 1749, during Corpus Christi, a rain fell in the entire town, saving the crops and preserving the harvest. Since then, the Dance to the Most Blessed Sacrament was celebrated, which later became this tradition held every year nine Thursdays after Corpus Christi, and is known today as the Dancing Devils.
How to get to the Dancing Devils of Yare?
To get to San Francisco de Yare, travelers have to take a certain route since Yare is a small town close to Caracas, capital of Venezuela. Here’s how you can reach this destination:
- By plane: first, you have to arrive at the Maiquetía Simón Bolívar International Airport. This is the most important airport in Venezuela, so different airlines in Europe and America have flights to this destination.
- By bus: once at the Maiquetía Simón Bolívar International Airport, you must go to the Nuevo Circo Terminal or the Río Tuy Terminal. There you only have to find a bus company and purchase a ticket to San Francisco de Yare, which will take you directly to the town.
- By rail: the underground railway system is also another convenient option to reach San Francisco de Yare. In this case, we must travel by road to La Rinconada Terminal from the Maiquetía International Airport. Once there, you can take the State Railways System (IFE) and get off at the Charallave Norte Station. Upon arriving at the station, the next step is taking a bus to Yare.
Where to stay in San Francisco de Yare?
San Francisco de Yare has different hotels, so visitors will certainly enjoy a great experience while staying in town. In addition to the Dancing Devils festival, tourists can discover historic sites from the colonial era and the local art of the Simón Bolívar Municipality.
What to do and see during the Dancing Devils of Yare?
Besides the Dancing Devils of Yare, there are many activities to enjoy in San Francisco de Yare during the festival. Some of the options are:
- Night parties: every night, people gather in common areas –mainly in the Bolívar Square– to celebrate the arrival of the Devils until dawn.
- Devils of Yare Square: one of the most symbolic places in San Francisco de Yare, where you can see this work of art turned into a town square, which represents the importance of the Dancing Devils tradition. Hundreds of people visit the square every day, making it an excellent place of recreation.
Book your Hotel and Flight for the Diablos of Yare Carnival
Is it a safe city?
Yare is recognized for being a welcoming destination with a great tourist contribution to Valles del Tuy. Hundreds of people come together to celebrate this major holiday every year. Even so, it is advisable to keep your valuables safe and to walk in busy, well-lit streets at night.
What to eat?
Once in Yare you’ll be able to try the diverse culinary options that this town has to offer. The most popular include:
- Empanadas criollas: a simple but tasty recipe with fascinating flavors. Empanadas are a type of fried cornmeal pastries filled with meat, chicken, cheese and/or fish. Most of the time, these savory pastries are accompanied with garlic or spicy sauce.
- Pabellón criollo: this traditional Venezuelan dish is a plate of rice, shredded beef, stewed black beans and tajadas (fried plantain slices). It is one of the most typical lunches in Yare and the entire region.
- Hot Dogs: they are actually quite popular in Latin American countries. The partially sliced bun is stuffed with a steamed sausage as usual, but what makes the ones in Yare unique are the different dressings, condiments and toppings that give this common dish a unique taste.