FESTIVITIES IN SPAIN: SAINT FERMIN
ORIGIN AND CELEBRATION: SAINT FERMIN
As we said in previous posts, this summer MyHOSTpitality wants to inform all of you about the different festivities that are going to take place in Spain and the UK. We want you to know different cultures and traditions but above all learn languages.
As you know, we are a company of collaborative consumption looking for you to manage your own language exchange in order to save the intermediate parts and make the language exchange as cheap as possible.
On July 7th the city of Pamplona celebrates Saint Fermin. The festivity begins with the “Txupinazo” (firecracker) on the 6th of July at 12 PM followed by 9 intense days of Bull Runs and fun featured by thousands of “pamploneses”and of course ventured tourists. Thousands of people get together in the plaza before midday, they open bottles of champagne, wine, “sangria”. Little by little the plaza is filling even more, you can hear screams, whistles and canticles, Pamplona is on holiday. When the firecracker is thrown, madness is unleashed and the festivity begins, a festivity that lasts until the 14th.
The traditional clothing consists on white clothes and a red handkerchief. The handkerchief is worn around the neck during the festivity but before the Txupinazo people usually wear it tied to their wrist, hand or inside their pocket. Once the festivity begins, people tied up the handkerchief around their neck.
Like most Spanish festivities, Saint Fermin has a religious origin. The red handkerchief is characteristic because in religious ceremonies, when they are celebrated in the name of a saint who was a martyr or died because of his believes, the priests would wear red in their celebrations. Saint Fermin was a martyr, which explains the red handkerchief. However, the white clothing doesn’t have that much antiquity as the handkerchief does.
The religious acts that are related to this festivity are celebrated on July 7th at 10 AM, at the time the procession of Saint Fermin starts from the church of San Lorenzo. The route is done through the old part of the city.
What makes this festivity very popular are the daily Bull Runs at 8 AM from the 7th to the 14th. The participants run around 875 meters. Before launching the initial rocket that marks the output of the bulls, three songs shall be sang to Saint Fermin. The Bull Runs can be seen from the same streets where the bulls transit or from the balconies.
Bullfights are also very typical, the bulls that have made the run through the streets during the morning are usually fought. There are bullfights during the 9 days of the festivity.
The local company of Pamplona, Kukuxumusu, has a big relation with the company since 1989 when three friends decided to make shirts to pay all the expenses of the Saint Fermin festivity. Kukuxumusu has been making all sorts of cartoons and shirts for this celebration for over 27 years. This year they plan on pay tribute to the famous bull “Curious”, the bull who didn’t want to run in last year’s Bull Run.
Other traditions during the Saint Fermin festivity
During the 9 days the festivity lasts, the streets of Pamplona are filled with music. The music is delivered by the band of Pamplona (La Pamplonesa), the Association of Giants and Big Headed of Pamplona (La Comparsa) and of course by “peñas” and “txarangas”.
Another act that is celebrated the 6th of July on the afternoon is the “Riau, Riau”. It’s a traditional act in which La Pamplonesa and whoever wants to join, accompany the municipal corporation from city hall to the chapel of Saint Fermin. It’s a slow pace walk where everybody sings “Riau, Riau”. This act has been celebrated officially since 1914 to 1994. There has been failed attempts to retake this act, nowadays it can be celebrated but in an unofficial way without any attending authorities.
Every morning from 6:45 AM to 7:30 AM, La Pamplonesa walks through the streets of the city, what they call Las Dianas de San Fermin. They work as the alarm clock of the festivity.
Giants can be found in many cities but none like the ones from Pamplona. La Comparsa is formed by eight people of 4 meter tall (four pairs of a king and a queen). They represent the 4 continents of the world (Europe, Africa, Asia and America).
The “Pobre de mi” is the official canticle that puts an end to the Saint Fermin festivity. It takes place the 14th at 12 AM in the city hall plaza. The canticle says: “poor me, poor me, the Saint Fermin festivity has finished”
A common but recent tradition is the “Pañolada” to Saint Fermin. When the “Pobre de mi” is over, many people come to the church of San Lorenzo and leave their handkerchief and a candle by the gate, as a gesture of accompaniment to the Saint.
Saint Fermin in other countries
Saint Fermin isn’t celebrated only in Spain. We can find other popular festivities that have some similarities with the Bull Runs of Saint Fermin:
- Nola Bulls (Nueva Orleans)
- Dewey Beach (Delaware): “Dewey Beach Running of the Bulls”
- Palo Alto (California): “Annual Running of the Bulls”
Find your accommodation with MyHOSTpitality
Booking a hotel room on this date in Pamplona is almost impossible due to the high demands. The booking is usually done a year before and even then it is very expensive.
There’s usually more offer than demand when looking for accommodation. In general, people tend to accommodate themselves in the streets, in the green areas.
However, if you plan on going because your boss gave you a few days off and you don’t have a place to stay, don’t sleep on a bench, your mother could be watching you on TV. Search within our community, MyHOSTpitality, a host that can accommodate you during those days. If you are lucky, share your native language in exchange for free accommodation. Enjoy the Saint Fermin festivity, experience the “Txupinazo” and the ambient of Pamplona.
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