Besides the well-known and well-established
events which take place during the Fiesta,
there are always some periferal new innovations
springing up just so as to have a good time.
Some never get beyond that stage and they
are soon forgotten. But others gradually tend
to become an annual tradition and maybe even
get recognised as an official part of the
programme - a case in point being the Riau-riau.
Then there are always a few events that, for
whatever reason - maybe because they are dangerous,
or anti-establishment, or go against the grain
of public order - which are not given much
airing. For example...
THE FOUNTAIN IN THE NAVARRERIA.
There are some age-old activities
which have become an essential part of the
Fiesta and which are unchangable and untouchable.
But from generation to generation some new
fads come and go with the years. In the last
few years one such new fad has been taken
up at the fountain in the Navarreria [map].
This was begun by some Australian visitors
who used to meet up together at a bar -The
Mejilloneria - near the fountain.
They got the idea of climbing up the
St. Cecilia fountain and diving off
the top into the waiting arms of their
mates below. There is no fixed hour
for this action - it just takes off
spontaneously at any time during the
day and anyone can do it. But it can
be dangerous, if the bodies waiting
to catch you below should stumble or
slip up, you will hit the hard flagstone
with a thump. There has already been
more than one serious accident here.
Even if you don´t want to jump,
it´s worth having a look at these
guys - mostly foreigners - doing their
own peculiar thing during
the San Fermin Fiesta. Just beside the Fountain,
you can get a good view from one of the classic
old bars of Pamplona - The Meson. Worth a visit.
Since 2002, each 5th of July sees the appearance of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) where the organization arranges a very original race along the same stretch used for the running of the bulls in the Sanfermin fiestas each morning between the 7 th through 14 th of July. The 5 th of July sees a kind of anti-running of the bulls where only humans take part and they do so to vindicate the stance that no animals should ever be used for human diversion.
What makes this event rather notorious is the fact that the participants run in the nude or semi-nude. In their pelts or semi-pelts. As the event is good-humoured and cheerful, despite the seriousness of their claims, the meeting has always received authorization from the local authorities.
They have achieved a lot of headlines in both the newspapers and on TV. Not surprisingly, as Pamplona is not exactly used to seeing a herd of half-naked men and women running through its streets. The organization has gradually attracted more and more followers and from the 20 or so in 2002, they can now count their numbers in hundreds.
This event is gradually becoming a singular attraction in Pamplona and who knows if maybe some day it might get included in the official Fiestas program of Sanfermin.
If you want more information, you can find it at http://www.petatv.com/
OF THE BULLS ON THE MORNING OF THE 15th
Officially, the fiestas come to a close on the 14th of July, but there are those who prolong it into the morning of the 15 th , even creating their own "running of the bulls". This particular running has its origins in the legendary "Running of the public bus". With the official fiestas over, this morning bus would once again take up its habitual route by way of the slope of Santo Domingo Street and pass by the now empty bull-pen.
The gathered crowd would anxiously await its early-morning appearance. They would sing in front of the niche to the saint (now substituted by an empty bottle) and of course, it was prohibited to shout to catch the attention of the "beast", etc. This was a tongue-in-cheek disrespect to the established order for having brought the fiestas to a close. And the established order was not amused. So it has done all it can to stop this "running in front of the early-morning bus". The bus schedule was changed to ensure that it would not run at that time. But for some people it didn't make any difference. They just ran in front of whatever vehicle made an appearance - perhaps a delivery truck heading for the nearby public market or indeed, any vehicle that came up Santo Domingo Street .
Lately, the thing has changed somewhat. Now the crowd run in front of a cyclist (dressed in his proper gear, of course) or someone dressed up in a "bull" suit. And there are some homilies sung to the saint, to whom some have given the name of Holy Patron of the 15 th . It would seem that it is a saint somewhat "under the weather" and very much alive, who parades about after the "Pobre de Mí" closing ceremony and goes about blessing the people until the early-morning running takes place.
If you want more information, you can find it at http://usuarios.lycos.es/pamplona15dejulio
The festival of San Fermin begins the 6th of
July and finishes the 14th, but during the year,
generally the week or two weeks before, different
events take place in Pamplona connected with
the fiesta; the day of the peñas, for
example, which dates from some years back.
The first months of the year, on some specific
dates, the people from the peñas, have
special kind of parties to celebrate that the
sanfermines are coming soon. This fad began
some years ago and it is called "The stair".
Following the lyrics of the very famous song
of sanfermines ("uno de Enero, dos de Febrero,
tres de Marzo, cuatro de Abril, cinco de Mayo,
seis de Junio, siete de Julio San Fermin. A
Pamplona hemos de ir, con una media, con una
media, a Pamplona hemos de ir con una media
y un calcetín" / "first of
January, second of February, third of March,
fourth of April, fifth of May, six of June,
seven of July San Fermin. To Pamplona we will
go, with tights, with tights. To Pamplona we
will go, with a tight and a sock") the
members of the peñas celebrate each month,
on a different day the fact that less time remains
for the festivals to begin. They meet in their
headquarters and prepare a big dinner, followed
by a spree that will finish in the early hours
of the next morning.
This "tradition" starts the first
day of the year and continues, as it is said
in the song, in different days of the next months.
It is not a very observed fad (it’s difficult
to remember the dates), but when you see a group
of people dressed in white and red, singing
the typical San Fermin’s song, you see
that the sanfermines are closer.
This new fad is just an excuse to have a dinner
together and to realize that very soon the awaited
festivals will begin again.
As well as the members of the peñas,
some pubs play music of sanfermines in order
to have a good atmosphere. Even only for some
hours, the people look forward to with the idea
of the sanfermines and they start to think how
are they going to celebrate them.
DEPOSITING YOUR SILK NECKTIE AT SAN LORENZO
The red necktie is a classic symbol of the Fiestas.
It is put on when the rocket
goes off at 12.00 midday on the sixth of
July. And it is worn until the closing of the
Fiesta on the night of the fourteenth, when
the Pobre de Mí - (Poor me) is sung by the sad crowd. Here,
the multitude gather once more under the facade
of the Town hall, in the gloom of the midnight
air, with glimmering candles in hand, to bide
a sad farewell to the Fiesta for another long
In the last years a new fad has come into fashion
- so new that there is no official name yet
for this rite - whereby the people, after having
sung their sad farewell to the Fiesta, head
for the church of San Lorenzo, where the statue
of the Saint is kept, and they deposit their
necktie and candles on the gates of the old
This Rite is becoming increasingly popular,
despite the dim view taken by the authorities.
The problem is that the greasy candles leave
a pool of dirty grease on the ground and the
local Parish Priest was the first to protest
against this "vandalism" in the local
press when the custom began. No doubt, as soon
as a solution is found for getting rid of this
mess, the rite will become officially accepted,
as has happened with so many other customs throughout
the long history of the San Fermin Fiesta
Our friend Jim Hollander has sent us a good
collection of photos to show you how serious
this new "tradition" is becoming.