Nejapa El Salvador is a municipality and a town mainly famous for its crazy and traditional balls of fire festival, a unique celebration that is known all over the world. Basically, Nejapa is your typical Salvadoran small town rich with local history and colorful traditions.
The municipality of Nejapa is located in the department of San Salvador; it is about 17 kilometers from the San Salvador Historic district. This municipality, just like many in the area, has ties to colonial times or even before. The name Nejapa in the Nahuat language means “River of Ashes.”
Culture and tourism of Nejapa El Salvador.
Nejapa is an attractive municipality worth visiting. It has fantastic cultural customs and traditions; most of them related to religion. Now, when it comes to tourism, it is not a top destination in the country.
Nejapa has fantastic cultural traditions, they are in full display during its Patron saint festivities. These festive days take place in September, from the 19th to the 30th; they honor Saint Jerome, the municipality’s patron saint.
If you want to visit Nejapa as a tourist, I recommend you do it in September during the patron festivities; or on August 31st, during the awesome balls of fire festival.
The balls of fire festival.
The balls of fire festival is a local tradition unique to Nejapa that involves religion and history. The tradition involves two opposing teams throwing balls of fire to each other.
Think about having a snow fight; however, instead of using snowballs, you use balls engulfed in kerosene and set on fire. Yes, the two opposing teams fight each other with these fireballs. Fun, is it?
The festival takes place every year on August 31st. According to historians, the celebration has two origins, one historical and one religious.
The traditional version explains that in 1658, El Playon volcano erupted; it forced the villagers of the old Nejapa village, known as Nixapa, to leave and settle at its current location. The festival is a way of remembering that event.
The religious version says that during the volcano eruption, Saint Jerome, the patron saint of the municipality, fought the Devil; he fought with Fire Balls as the lava flow was descending from the volcano and into the village. The celebration is a way of reenacting the fight between good and evil.
In any case, the balls of fire festival in Nejapa is a unique event that it’s worth attending and observing.
Short history of Nejapa El Salvador.
The pre-Columbian inhabitants of Nejapa were Pipil Indians. It is theorized that the original town was located near the town of Opico. Then, due to the eruption of the El Playon Volcano in 1658, the inhabitants moved to Quezaltepeque; subsequently, they moved to the site, it currently occupies.
In 1878, by legislative decree, Nejapa received the title of Villa; eventually, in 1959, again by legislative decree, Nejapa’s title changed from Villa to City.
The economy of Nejapa.
The economy of the municipality is based on agriculture, farming, manufacturing, and general commerce activities.
The agricultural activity of the municipality is based on the cultivation of coffee, basic grains, vegetables, and fruits. Additionally, there is ample farming of livestock that includes the domestic breeding of cattle and pigs, as well as poultry.
Furthermore, the municipality has factories that produce food products; also, there is a beverage bottling factory and a coffee mill. Nejapa also has metal structure workshops, bakeries, carpentry, and other industries.
Lastly, the general commerce activities of Nejapa include pharmacies, hardware stores, shoe stores, bookstores, and many others.
Nejapa El Salvador.
The municipality and town of Nejapa are your typical Salvadoran small community. It’s believed that the total population is less than 40,000; of course, this is a general estimate as El Salvador does not have an official census.
So, if you ever get the opportunity, I highly recommend you visit this municipality. Nevertheless, you should do it on August 31st to see the balls of fire festival; or visit during the patron saint festivities in September.