People like to celebrate important events all over the world, the reasons change, and the celebrations vary but a festival or a notable event brings communities together with one common purpose. And these get togethers are an important way to keep traditions alive and add to the culture of a people or place.
Our first port of call is Spain, and the town of Bunol to visit the famous La Tomatina. Held in August every year this food fight is an incredible spectacular. It is a way of disposing of over-ripe fruit that has not been eaten, more than a hundred metric tons to be precise.
Bunol is a sleepy little town, and once a year its nine thousand residents are joined by fifty thousand festival goers to have one gigantic tomato party. Recently because the town was being overrun the event is by ticket only and has been limited to twenty thousand people.
There seems no cultural orreligious purpose behind La Tomatina, and the event is purely for entertainment purposes and just to have fun. And at the end of the day what is wrong with that?
Pamplona Bull Run
One of the most dangerous festivals/events that is held is the Pamplona Bull Run in Spain. The event is in honor of Saint Fermin and is held annually from the sixth to the fourteenth of July. Pamplona is the capital of the Navarre region of Spain, and this event brings thousands of visitors to the region every year.
The festival was brought to the attention of the world in the novel The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemminway in 1926. But the origins of the bull run are thought to date back to the late 1500’s. The event celebrates the Spanish love of bull fighting which is an important part of their heritage. In olden times, bulls for fighting were bred all over the countryside by local farmers and then brought to Pamploma. Children would leap in front of the charging animals to show their bravery to their peers.
Today the bulls are held in a pen and in groups of six are then released in the old part of the city, then they cross the Town Hall Square and finally reach the stadium. Normally each run takes no more than three minutes and people are warned that the animals are loose by the firing of rockets.
The route is just under a thousand meters, and unlike days of yore, participants in the run must be eighteen or over. Many of the excited throng enjoy copious amounts of sangria or red wine probably to give them Dutch courage but this is when accidents happen.
To run in the festival, participants usually wear all white, with red sashes and neckerchiefs. This costume is not to goad the beasts, rather they are intended to make the runners as visible as possible to the onrushing bulls. This festival if not for the feint-hearted, but it is full of tradition and celebrates the bull as an integral part of Spanish culture.