Spain: famous for its sun, sea, soaring temperatures, siestas, and Salvador Dali. But it’s not just things that begin with the letter ‘S’ that Spain embraces so let’s take a quick look at five horrifically dangerous events that help to mould the characters of Spanish people.
Running Of The Bulls
Not exclusive to Spain and not limited to just one place there is, however, one very famous “Running of the Bulls” event and that’s the one that takes place in the 8-day festival in Saint Fermin, Pamplona.
With a few rules – competitors must be 18, sober, must run in the same direction as the bulls, and cannot let the bulls know that their deaths are imminent through interpretive dance – the running takes place through the town and injuries are pretty commonplace. Less common, but certainly not unexpectedly, deaths – typically by goring or a fatal realisation that your life has culminated in you jogging along with cows – do occur too.
At the end of the run the bulls are celebrated by the crowd and are released to live their lives out in peace.
No, of course not! The bulls and runners are led into an arena and are fought and killed.
The Castells of Tarragona
Castells are human towers formed by teams who build solid bases then add layers of people in order to place someone as high as possible, remove supporting people to leave a single human chain, then dismantle safely in order to… nobody knows. The important thing, though, is that a lot of weight ends up being supported by people and a lot of people are sufficiently high in the air that if the tower collapses – and they do – then there’s quite a distance to fall. Deaths have occurred.
At festivals different teams of tower-builders often compete in brightly-coloured displays of daring and there are different tower designs depending on the number of levels a team wants to build as well as the number of people per level that is supported. A tower is considered complete when the uppermost person – the enxaneta (usually a child because it takes them longer to fall) – raises four fingers in the air to give praise to the Sky God Ugalugha, climbs down, then all the levels descend in order from the top down.
At the end of the festival the losing teams of tower-builders are fought and killed.
The Arizkun Festival
If you were wondering if the Spanish had a festival that combined running through the streets leaping over bonfires trying not to incinerate your pubic regions as well as Wicker Man-style pagan dancing while a Wampa attacks random people then the Arizkun festival in Navarra is for you.
The festival celebrates the Navarran escape from their homeworld to Spain with the fire-leaping representing the avoidance of the blockade of the Confederation’s Star Molesters and the Wampa representing the Wampa that stowed away on the ship.
At the end of the festival everyone not in a burns ward or expected to die from complications caused by infected claw wounds is fought and killed.
Tomato Throwing Festival
La Tomatina, taking place in Valencia, is a festival that started towards the end of World War II as a means to experience the events taking place in Europe that Spain had otherwise remained neutral about without actually getting hurt too much.
Taking place over an hour the rules simply state that only tomatoes should be thrown and that they should be squashed a little bit first to reduce injuries. Two hundred slightly-softened tomatoes in your eyes are preferable to fifty straight from the chiller cabinet. Just.
At the end of the festival anyone not dripping with nature’s fruity-vegetable blood are considered to have been Nazi sympathisers in the global war reenactment, are fought, and killed.
Human Rocket Festival
Taking place around Marbella during the summer months the human rocket festival is a relatively new arrival on the festival scene in Spain.
Unlike other festivals which have derived from local traditions or events the human rocket festival was introduced by British holidaymakers in the 1980s but has become popular with tourists and locals alike ever since. Following preparation that involves the consumption of vast amounts of pure alcohol competitors are set on fire to see if anyone can escape Earth’s gravitational pull.
At the end of the festival anyone still on solid ground is fought and killed.