Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Why do Pamplonenses Celebrate San Fermin?

Pamplonenses celebrate San Fermines in honor of San Fermín, a Christian missionary, co-founder of Navarra. He was decapitated at the age fo 31 when he refused to stop spreading the word of God.

Originally, the celebration was a simple religious act, but with time, the party became bigger and bigger. In fact, the people who visit Pamplona between July 6 and July 14, make more emphasis on the party than the veneration of the Saint. I even doubt if most of these visitors know what the celebration represents. The celebration starts July 6 at midday with el Txupinazo (Chupinazo), a toss accompanied with the launching of a flare followed with a scream: “¡Viva San Fermín!” Although 2006 was a little different because the city’s mayor, Javier Esbuki, broke the tradition by screaming “¡Viva las fiestas de San Fermín!” because he is agnostic, lighting up a great controversy.

But the controversy did not affect the party, which continued in every corner of the city. It is sad the media don’t cover this impressive side of the celebration, and they only cover the encierro itself.

During San Fermines, Pamplona’s populations is multiplied by four, and people taint the streets with white and red, as they parade down the street with their San Fermin costumes: white clothes adorned with red belts and red handkerchiefs.

While the celebration lasts people befriend strangers, cultural and ideological differences disappear y and it is impossible to distinguish a person from the next because they all look alike. People don’t stop dancing and singing on the streets, and Pamplona transforms itself in the scenery of an open and never-ending party.

The city doesn’t sleep, but the visitors do, and they spread their sleeping bags in any patch of free grass they can find in plazas, street dividers of the main streets… They lay down to rest so they can continue the party later.

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