La Palma is one of the more rural Canary islands, home to beautiful nature and massive telescopes. It is visited with a lesser frequency than other islands in the archipelago and as a result, many local traditions are strong and mostly unchanged to fit tourists. The largest of these celebrations is La Bajada de la Virgen de las Nieves, or the “Descent of the Virgin of the Snows,” celebrated once every five years. Outside of this narrow time slot, the event is commemorated with a statue.
The celebration is focused around an effigy of the Virgin of the Snows, the patron saint of the island. Many events happen during the festivities, but the main attraction is the Danza de los Enanos (Dance of the Dwarves). The event as it is celebrated today dates back to 1833, but historians believe that the dance may date back as far as the 14th century. The look of the dwarves is thought to to be based on an 18th century lottery mascot called the lucky dwarf, as it also wore a large Napoleon hat.
During the dance, participants walk into one side of a very small tent dressed as bishops then emerge from the other side as dwarves. Throughout the night the dancers perform their traditional steps while wearing their heavy costumes. There are varying interpretations of the dwarves and their dance. Some say that it is connected to fertility or the summer solstice, while others view it as a work of satire.
Know Before You Go
The monument is located on the square right across from the ship museum.