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The History of the Popular Festival of San Fermines in Pamplona

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The “San Fermin Festival,” or La Fiesta de San Fermin, is a yearly celebration in Spain. It is one of the most famous Spanish celebrations, renowned in part for its Running of the Bulls tradition.

One way to better understand Spanish culture is to familiarize yourself with this joyful, traditional celebration. There are apartments for San Fermin awaiting your booking to experience the unreal.

The Celebration of Death and Burial

Fiestas in honor of San Fermin have been celebrated since the 12th century, when the community was limited to the Navarrera region. San Fermin is believed to be the first bishop of Pamplona. From a religious perspective, this festivity celebrated the death and burial of Saint Fermin in Amiens; in 1186, Bishop Pedro de Artajona transported a relic of the saint from this city. Following this, the city’s devotion to the saint gradually became stronger.

Two centuries later, the city received another relic, and the devotion to the saint expanded to the neighboring communities of San Cernin and San Nicolás. During this period, the fiestas celebrated in honor of the saint included the Vespers, the Procession, the Octava (eighth mass), and the so-called “lunch for the poor,” which was paid for by the city council. These fiestas were modest and virtually purely religious.

Documentation of cattle fairs and bullfights dates back to the 14th century and beyond, suggesting a connection to the Fiesta. However, religious celebrations and bullfighting competitions took place at various times of the year. The people of Pamplona, however, were sick of the terrible weather that befell the city every year on the patron saint’s feast day, which was October 10, so they successfully had the date shifted to July 7, coinciding with the cattle markets. In 1591, they held the first San Fermin fiesta.

For two days, the people of Pamplona reveled in the festivities, which began with an introductory address read to the accompaniment of a cacophony of drums and trumpets. The Jesuits staged a play named “Comedy and Tragedy of the Blessed St. Fermin” at the Plaza del Castillo main plaza, where a trophy was presented.

The Twentieth Century

The heyday of fiestas occurred in the 20th century. Organizers progressively included new rites and festivities, some of which had started as spontaneous gatherings but quickly became tradition. The Riau-Riau was included at the turn of the century, when the Carlists were under the leadership of Ignacio Baleztena.

In 1991, they put the Riau-Riau on hold. The Chupinazo came years after the war, when José María Pérez Salazar and Jokintxo Ilundain chose to add fun to the ritual that started the fiestas by launching a rocket.

Other activities subsequently emerged inside the San Fermin fiestas and are a crucial part of the festivities, seemingly out of nowhere and with just enjoyment in mind. Other instances include the nighttime bull run (Encierrillo) and the running of the bulls (Encierro).

Experience the Ultimate Festival of San Fermines in Pamplona

A synergy between the flavor of the past and the always-updated experiences of the present universalized these performances around the turn of the century due to their popular character, blending reverence for tradition with the lively energy of the city’s residents.

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