Monday, July 7, 2008

People of Pamplona! Long live San Fermín!

San Fermin is a patron of Pamplona and the Basque country, he was their first bishop. He was beheaded at Amiens on 25 September 303. Some of his relics came to Pamplona in 1196 and the celebrations began. There is a week of events to the exuberant fiesta. It begins at noon, the day before, with the fireworks chupinazo salute. It ends at midnight 14/15 July.

The Encierro or 'Running of the Bulls' was introduced to an english reading audience by Ernest Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises (1926). The annoyed bulls are let loose on the street chasing juvenile, drunken men. It is exciting and colorful and occasionally disastrous. It is an event, that when it comes to the notice of a boy, he wants to engage. There is a certain frivolous romance that appeals to the youthful. Every day at 8 a.m. the men and boys, dressed traditionally in white and wearing red neckerchiefs, line up for the slightly, less than a kilometer run. Doing the half mile run on cobblestones being chased by upset beef, can be an experience and anecdote one can share for a lifetime.

On successive days from the 7th to the14th the bulls run in the morning, and fight in the afternoon. Hemingway wrote Death in the Afternoon(1932), a non-fiction book, also partly based on his 1925 fiesta experience.

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