When we talk about trips to the Camino de Santiago organized, there are many signs, signs, traditions and stories that revolve around these routes. If we look back and think about the centuries of its existence, we can come to the conclusion that some emblems are part of its folklore.

Among all the symbols and signs of the Camino de Santiago there are some that are much more striking than others. Possibly this is due to the history that exists behind them or because of how important they were at the time. Of the best examples are the staff and the gourd and in the following lines we are going to talk about them.

Why are the staff and gourd so important?

As we have already said, there are many signs. However, the staff and the gourd are of special importance. This is because, despite being one of the oldest, they are still valid. Although the use is not the same as centuries ago, but that They can be seen as an icon of the pilgrimage and are present in all souvenir shops especially if you do for example the Camino from Sarria to Santiago.

Its uses were directly related to the well-being of the pilgrim along the way. In both cases, the purpose is to provide greater comfort and make the journey much more practical. Remember that in the beginning they did not enjoy the comforts that do exist today.

The snare, what is it for, what is its meaning and how to choose it

The staff or cane is a wooden stick of a certain thickness. It is used as a support for walking, especially on steep paths such as climbs or slopes, offering support to the pilgrims’ knees.

Apart from being support, when the pilgrims encountered streams or lamas, they helped to give the right momentum to overcome them easily. In addition, it also served defensive weapon, both for thieves or criminals who crossed the road, as well as against some wild animals (usually dogs)

He also helped carry the equipment, both food and liquid for the road, tied at the top.

Long and straight, its height used to exceed the shoulder of the wearer, although at present they do not have this same extension. Regarding the tip or upper part, it was generally topped by a knob or by a kind of circular molding, thicker in the center. The lower part ended in a point.

According to historians, the word staff has its origin in Old French where it means spear. It was an emblem among the pilgrims from the first ones who started the route. Even the Apostle Santiago used it between his evangelization tours.

Between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries it was perhaps the period in which pilgrims could be seen using it the most. From the XNUMXth century, the pilgrim’s staff became part of the Calixtinus Codex. In fact, there are some reviews that, for those dates, in many churches and hermitages that were on the Camino de Santiago, the priests used to bless them.

Choosing a staff was not entirely an easy task. On the contrary, a wooden structure with enough resistance was required but it was light. Something that would not break during the journey but that would not be an excessive load.

Physical preparation for the Camino de Santiago

The pumpkin, what is it for, what is its meaning and how to choose it

Another of the indisputable symbols of the Camino de Santiago is the pilgrim’s gourd. This is an accessory that is part of the traditional attire of medieval times, just like the staff.

This type of pumpkin, the species lagenaria siceraria, It is not exactly native to this area, but it is believed that it arrived in Europe through African migrations. However, it has been used in this region since time immemorial. In fact, its cultivation and consumption is so widespread that this fruit is properly called pilgrim gourd. It extends from Africa to America.

Those who undertook the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, They used it to store water or wine and be able to stay hydrated along the way.

To turn it into a container, first of all, it is necessary to empty its interior of seeds and then put the skin to dry so that it hardens. The drying process was not entirely easy, although there were two traditional methods.

  • The first consisted of bury them for several months. This was an extremely dangerous process since many times they rotted underground.
  • The second and more reliable was cover them with goatskin and wait for them to dry slowly. The furs weren’t entirely necessary. However, being so delicate, in addition to providing heat, they also helped to protect them.

Before being used by pilgrims, the gourd was used for domestic and agricultural tasks, due to how light and useful it was.

The pilgrim’s gourd is made up of two parts: The wide bottom side and the thin top. In the middle it is august and it was used like this to fasten it with the help of a rope to the waist of the walkers or any other part of the clothing.

Although their use as a container for storing water has now almost completely diminished, it is still possible to see them in souvenir sales.