Nowadays we celebrate
the Sanfermin festivals from the 6th
of July till the 14th. Nearly 400 years
ago, in 1591, the authorities of the
city decided to change the dates due
to the bad weather that used to be in
all this celebrating is going on thanks
to a saint called San Fermín.
But who was this guy really?
How come he has ended
up being the patron saint for all this
partying? Well, first they had to make
him a saint and that happened a long
It seems he was the son of the local
head man when Pamplona
city belonging to the great Roman Empire back
in the third century A.D. or thereabouts.
A french Bishop - San Saturnino - came down
to bring the Good News to the local heathens.
He did such a good job on San Fermín
that this guy decided to go up to France - to
Toulouse to do some more learning and to become
a bishop. Then he returned to help out with
the good work that San Saturnino had started
and then after a period he went back up to France
to spread the word around the area of Amiens.
However, it seems he ran up against the local
powers-to-be up there and got himself tortured
and beheaded for his trouble. The body is still
up there in the local Cathedral, but some parts
of it are spread round as valuable relics. Three
such relics eventually made their way to Pamplona
back in the middle ages and they made the guy
very popular round these parts.
So much so, that the people started having a
Festival every year to celebrate the Saint.
Although, funny enough, he's neither the Patron
Saint of the city (that honour goes to San Saturnino),
nor the patron saint of the Region (that honour
goes to another local boy - St. Francis Xavier)
It’s a bit ironic really that, with the
curriculum that he’s got, this saint should
be the excuse for the annual Baccal that has
become so famous round the world. He would probably
turn in his grave if he only knew...
But let’s be fair, for many people it
is something more than just "a damn good
party". And so there is a pretty classy procession
on his feastday - the 7th of July. And maybe
he returns his thanks when he gives us that
special protection during the Bull-Running when the people talk
about the "capotico
(the cape) of San Fermín" when
there have been some lucky escapes made.
Some people really believe in these "miraculous
escapes" and the only explanation
can be the intervention of the Saint.
For others it’s nothing more than
a tradition. In any case, not a bad idea
to sing the homily to the saint before
you start your run just in case....
By the way, the original date for celebrating
his feast-day used to be in October, both
here and in Amiens. But in Pamplona, back
in 1591 it was decided to change the date
to the 7th of July because the weather
was usually bad in October. It has to
be said that it was a very good idea.
Some people take his life story with
a pinch of salt. - How much is fiction?
That’s up to you to decide...
WHY THE RED SCARF IN SANFERMIN?