The popularity of the walking pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela across Northern Spain is often understood as a new kind of spiritual tourism rather than a revival of religious practice. In order to examine this claim, I explore common symbolic and ritual practices on the trail such as rock placing, message making, role playing, and partaking in communal play activities. I elaborate the concept of play to explain these behaviors and consider how they relate to transcendental and sacred meanings. This analysis has important implications for explaining the current popularity of the Camino. In particular, it helps explain how the same ritual and symbolic acts may be shared by diverse people with diverse motivations, and how contemporary ritual practices may relate and reengage with imaginaries of the pilgrimage of the past.
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"Pilgrims’ play on the Santiago Way,"
International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage:
5, Article 4.
Available at: https://arrow.tudublin.ie/ijrtp/vol7/iss5/4