May 15 is the big day of Madrid, as the city celebrates its patron saint, San Isidro. This saint was born in Madrid, back in the year 1080, in the bosom of a humble family, in a house in the street of Las Aguas, near El Anciano Rey. At the beginning he worked as a digger and a dowser, although later he devoted himself to agriculture.
It is said that he tilled the earth every day, but that he also devoted many hours to prayer. Due to this, some comrades accused him of neglecting his work in the field. But one day the unforeseen happened, and that is that while he was in the church some angels came down from heaven to take the plow and fulfill the work of Isidro.
Isidro married Maria de la Cabeza, and more than 400 miracles are attributed to him. One of them was to make water sprout hitting a rock with his rod. Thus, on May 15, 1619, Pope Paul V beatified him, which explains the date of the celebration that has been taking place every year since then.
At the end of the 19th century, depending on the neighborhood of origin and the way of dressing, the residents of Madrid adopted a specific name. For example, the Chulapos lived in Malasaña and the Manolos in Lavapiés. Other names were the “chisperos” or “isidros”, but everyone put on their best clothes to go to celebrate the patron saint of Madrid.
The chulapas wear a white blouse with tight sleeves at the waist and polka-dot skirt to the feet. The head is covered with a handkerchief topped with two carnations and knotted around the neck. All this is accompanied by a colorful Manila shawl.
The chulapos wear tight dark pants, a short and narrow jacket decorated with a carnation, booties and a black and white checkered cap called “parpusa”.
All meet in the Prairie of San Isidro to dance the chotis. This dance dates back to 1850, when it was danced for the first time in the Royal Palace. Actually what the musicians played was a polka called “Schottissh”, a name that became distorted until the current word “chotis”. It is a simple dance, which is danced as a couple to the sound of a “organillo”. The chulapa revolves around the man and this turns in turn on its axis. Therefore it is said that only one tile is needed to dance it.
Finally, after the dance comes the snack, where the protagonists are the famous donuts of San Isidro.
And after this, it is only necessary for you to come to the center of Madrid to honor our patron saint, and visit one of the most traditional taverns in Madrid: El Anciano Rey de los Vinos.