Traditional Bull Runs Commence in Spain
One of the largest annual festivals, San Fermín, has ceremoniously kicked off in Spain. The festivities began in the capital city of Pamplona, located in the region of Navarre, with the traditional firing of the "Chupinazo" rocket from the municipality's balcony.
It isas reported by CTVNews.
Thousands of people dressed in white attire with red scarves attended the ceremony. The festival will span nine days, starting each morning with the running of the bulls, where bulls are traditionally driven through the winding streets of the city towards the main arena. The rest of the time is filled with carnival processions, costume performances, and round-the-clock revelry.
In the first bull run of the San Fermín festival in Pamplona, thousands of thrill-seekers participated, with at least six individuals sustaining injuries. The festival attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. Nearly 1.7 million people visited Pamplona for the celebration in 2022, and this year's attendance is expected to be higher as all COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
Six tame oxen led the bulls through the streets of Pamplona for about two and a half minutes before they reached the bullring. The festival gained worldwide recognition through Ernest Hemingway's novel "The Sun Also Rises" in 1926. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Hemingway's first visit to the festival.
Four runners lost their lives at the festival last year. Since 1910, sixteen people have died during the bull runs, with the most recent fatality occurring in 2009. The bulls that run in the morning are later killed by professional bullfighters in the afternoon.
Animal rights activists consistently campaign against the festival, claiming it is cruel to animals. Destino Navarra, an official tour guide group, stated that visitors from the United States and Canada make up 70% of the total bookings for this year's festival.
Experienced runners, mostly local residents, attempt to sprint ahead of the bulls at full speed before veering off at the last moment. Less experienced participants, including many foreigners, fare reasonably well but often collide with other runners while trying to get out of the way.
During the vibrant festival, nearly everyone in Pamplona dons traditional white shirts and trousers with a red sash and neckerchief.
The week-long festival, in honor of the patron saint of Navarre, Saint Fermín, features daily bull runs (encierro), where hundreds of people run through narrow streets for a few minutes chased by released bulls.
This year, the festival takes place against the backdrop of protests regarding the treatment of women during the event. A case of sexual assault at the festival in 2016 shocked Spanish society and sparked nationwide protests.
Five men were sentenced to nine years in prison for sexually assaulting a festivalgoer. These men, known as "La Manada" or "The Wolf Pack," were released on bail in June pending an appeal.
Theoretically, they could participate in the festival again this year, although there is no evidence to suggest they have similar plans.
Some feminist organizations called on women to wear black and purple scarves instead of the traditional red and white ones as a protest symbol at the festival. Others urged a complete boycott of the event.
However, some feminist initiatives in Pamplona did not support the protest, emphasizing the need to respect the tradition of the festival. According to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, they highlighted that the protests were organized "without consensus, without any confirmation, and without a clear objective."
Furthermore, animal welfare organizations are staging campaigns against the perceived mistreatment of animals involved in the bull runs.