(CNN Spanish) — Spain recovers this Wednesday one of the most popular summer celebrations in the country. We are talking about the Sanfermines, a festival with years of tradition in Pamplona and which is known throughout the world for its running of the bulls and festivals. Precisely, this Wednesday very early, the people of Pamplona kick off the festivities with the popular chupinazo.
See in this note what you should know about the Sanfermines:
When are they held and how long do they last?
The Sanfermines are celebrated from July 6 to 14 in Pamplona. There are nine days of celebration.
Of legends and truths
No, the bulls do not run freely through the streets of Pamplona for hours, nor is it true that there are fatalities in each race or that the bulls die on the route populated by intoxicated alcoholics. In fact, since there are historical records of the running of the bulls, only a total of 16 people have died in this race, although of course, a single death is a lot.
As there are many urban legends about one of the most famous festivals in the world, but not all of them are true.
If we talk about the most internationally known act and now also controversial, we must clarify that six bulls run in the running of the bulls guided by two groups of halters along a very limited route, doubly fenced and with emergency services at its main points of its barely 800 meters travel. But it is also that the parties are much more than this daily act that barely lasts 4 minutes. They are open, joyful and cosmopolitan festivals that combine tradition with transgression.
What is the origin of the sanfermines?
Curiously, San Fermín is not the patron saint of Pamplona but of the entire community of Navarra, together with another saint perhaps better known as San Francisco Javier. The patron saint of Pamplona is San Saturnino, but the most famous festivities throughout this old kingdom are in honor of San Fermín and not poor Saturnino.
But let’s start like every good story at the beginning, the origin of the festivities goes back to the Middle Ages, then religious functions were held every October 10 in homage to a saint, San Fermín. The history of this saint began many centuries before.
Apparently this Fermín was the son of a senator from the Roman city of Pompaelo, which is what Pamplona was called then.
But Fermín, who must have been a bit of a rebel at the time, became a Christian and, crossing the Pyrenees, began to evangelize Gaul, and it seems that he made a career, because at only 24 years of age he was made bishop of the city of Toulouse.
Fermín continued with his evangelizing work until he reached the ears of the Roman governor named Sebastián, who offered worship to other gods, specifically Jupiter and Mercury. It seems that Sebastián did not like much the sermons of Fermín, who took parishioners away from him and that is why he ordered his throat to be cut. Surely there was more drama in between, but we missed those episodes and maybe the entire season, but we have to continue with this story of the origin of Sanfermines.
Tradition has it that the blood that flowed from Fermín’s throat was the inspiration for the red scarf that is worn around the neck during these festivities. But this is what the legend says, and you know that tradition, legend and truth are easy to confuse.
But let’s continue, how did the news of a saint from Amiens reach Pamplona? Well, thanks to the pilgrimage that was made in the Middle Ages from all over Europe to Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, in the northwest of the country. You know, to pray before the remains of the apostle Santiago who supposedly ended up in this corner of northwestern Spain. It seems that those who had passed through Amiens told in Pamplona that in neighboring France a saint from Pamplona was venerated.
As you can see, at first, everything was very religious, but as usually happens, the festivities around the memory of the saint gradually became something more mundane. First they began to celebrate meals for the poor, then the procession to the saint was accompanied by music and dances, and finally in 1591 it was decided that it was too cold to dance outdoors in October and that summer was better, so it was changed to current July 7. Although we must remember that the parties begin at 12 noon on July 6.
history of lockdown
In any case, these decisions are not capricious, in July it coincided with an animal and food fair that brought together merchants, buyers and onlookers, and bullfights also began to be organized there.
And since there were bulls, well, they had to be taken from the corrals outside the city to the plaza where they would be fought, we are talking about the 14th century…it has rained. That transfer was done at night so as not to endanger the population, and it seems that once someone had the idea of jumping into the streets and running in front of the bulls, perhaps for fun, and that’s how it all started. The word spread among the young people, and the running of the bulls became something popular, so much so that on June 28, 1876, it was officially approved as a celebration.
But then the running of the bulls was not known outside Navarra, until in the 1920s, an American writer arrived, a lover of parties, bullfights and women, Mr. Ernest Hemingway, Ernesto for his friends, and who in 1926 decided post The Sun Also Risesa novel that in the United Kingdom and Spain, among other countries, decided to title it something shorter to summarize it, Partytotal was that right?
And from there, the color of the running of the bulls, the photos, the television, and we have already set up the most international Spanish festival, without detracting from other well-known bullfighting events, such as the Valencian Fallas or Tomatina, the April Fair Seville or San Isidro Madrid.
In any case, the best thing is to experience them all and why not start with Pamplona?
More about the Sanfermines: