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GORA SAN FERMIN!!

By Patrick Van Roy On July 6th, 2019

Guest Post by Paul McMahon

Today sees the opening of the world famous San Fermin fiesta popularised to the wider world by leading French novelist Ernest Hemmingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’ where Pamplonicas and various other party animals of different nationalities let their hair down for eight days, and is certainly the greatest festival in Europe if not the world

The festival officially opens at midday with the Mayor of Pamplona lighting fireworks from the balcony of the city hall with tens of thousands attending the ‘chupinazo’ (I took this picture myself of a small part of it earlier today) :  

And every morning thereafter at 8.00 there is the (in) famous Encierro, the bull run, where eight adult bulls are ran through the streets of Pamplona’s old town up to the bullring with hundreds running in front of them, The run’s not for the faint hearted and there’s normally a few gorings (many times drunk Americans) and even some deaths over the years. The problems occur as the bars are open 24 hours so you normally have someone drinking all night and then deciding to do the run in the morning, drunk. 

 

Pamplona’s population is around 240,000 and during San Fermin it swells to around 2,000,000 as people come to the fiesta from different parts of Spain, other parts of Europe, the US, NZ and Australia. accomodation prices rise by around 150% are are normally snapped up from last September. If you are not a local you will be overcharged in bars and restaurants. 

Such large gathering are of course a mecca for pickpockets although it is surprisingly relatively crime free and violence is almost unheard of although there have been a number of sex crimes. In 2015 a young woman from Madrid was gang raped by ‘la manada’ (the wolfpack), five men from southern Spain, which made international news. One of the rapists was a serving policeman and another a soldier. An American tourist raped a local woman in 2010 and in 2008 a nineteen year old local woman, Nagore Lafage, was murdered by a junior psychologist at the private Opus Dei university after she refused to have sex with him.

38 Responses to “GORA SAN FERMIN!!”

  1. Many thanks Pat.

  2. pleasure

  3. Can’t say it would be my cup of tea. Bullrunning and fighting strike me as totally barbaric.

  4. Bull fighting is absolutely barbaric, not to mention grossly unfair. Bull running is a different matter in the sense that it’s man and beast on a metaphorical level playing field.

    Having said that, San Fermin consists of much, much more than the run.

  5. Interesting post Paul, I had no idea that Pamplona lasted for eight days.

    No offence, but it sounds like a total nightmare to me. I’m glad to see that the bulls are fighting back against the organised cruelty of the run. Anyone who gets gored totally deserves their fate.

  6. I had an acquaintance In NY, an ex Vietnam war helicopter pilot Who used to attend that every year.

    One year, he was gored, it was in all the local media. His boss wasn’t too happy with him.

    Not sure that I get the attraction.

    I’d be happy to visit San Fermin, But not during the festival. Just as I love New Orleans, but would never want to go there during Mardi Gras.

    A friend Is in Spain now, doing this epic walk.
    https://www.rei.com/blog/travel/how-to-hike-the-camino-de-santiago

  7. No offence taken at all Peter. What makes it nightmarish for you?

    I’d be happy to visit San Fermin, But not during the festival

    San Fermin is the festival Phantom. There’s a smaller version, San Fermines txikito, held the second weekend in September, it’s for locals as opposed to guiris. There are no bull runs but at ten o’clock on both nights a ‘bull’ comes out that has sparkeler firworks for horns, and chases the kids around.

  8. What makes it nightmarish for you?

    “The problems occur as the bars are open 24 hours so you normally have someone drinking all night…

    Pamplona’s population is around 240,000 and during San Fermin it swells to around 2,000,000…

    Such large gathering are of course a mecca for pickpockets although it is surprisingly relatively crime free and violence is almost unheard of although there have been a number of sex crimes…”

    Apart from all that is sounds brilliant 🙂

  9. It’s a party atmosphere at night. During the day there are many more cultural events, concerts, poetry, trad Basque dancing, culinery competitions etc.

    As for the crime bit, you and I are from the same city Peter and Pamplona is an immeasureably safer place.

  10. Ah yes

    I’d like to visit Pamplona

  11. It is barbaric and anachronistic but (I’d guess) that’s the very point of it.

    I think bull fighting and running started in Minoan Crete, which is also more or less the same place and time that European civilisation started. There’s the story of the king of the gods in the form of a bull running off with Europa on his back, which gave Europe its name and the bull as the continent’s symbol. Bulls are also very prominent in the earliest art works, cave paintings, and also play a major role in Irish mythology. In fact, it was the theft of a bull that more or less to the foundation of Ulster, and even today many Ulster politicians still talk bull.

    So don’t let 21th C sensitivities interfere with a practice that has been celebrating strength, virility and fertility since the Bronze Age. When we celebrate the bull we are celebrating ageless Europe. Leave the bullshit to the Brexiters and let the bulls run.

  12. “So don’t let 21th C sensitivities interfere with a practice that has been celebrating strength, virility and fertility since the Bronze Age”

    You mean like the rape of the Sabine women? So if that is the case should we not be celebrating la manada as well?

  13. Have you ever seen a bullfight Noel? A horrifically barbaric not to mention cowardly spectacle.

    As for the run itself, there’s a fair amount of macho bullshit surrounding it but for local Pamplonicas it’s considered a rite of passage. I have no objections to the run as it’s man on beast at level peggings but the ultimate end result is horrific.

  14. Seamus, Europa’s bull ride was more a seduction than an injustice. What woman would not be dazzled by a king and ride off with, or on, him. And it was she that started the seduction, the hussy. Yes, that is fit cause for celebration.

    The rape of the Sabines wasn’t actually rape, it was a mass abduction because Rome needed women, so obviously they aren’t going to start raping them there and then. But it was an injustice so no cause for celebration.

    There are countless stories of women being carried off in history. The great Hugh O’Neill did it, as did the even greater Wolfe Tone (I’m almost sure).

  15. “Seamus, Europa’s bull ride was more a seduction than an injustice.”

    And? Just because a mythological tale was not an injustice doesn’t mean that the modern telling of it isn’t one.

  16. //Have you ever seen a bullfight Noel? //

    Paul, bulls fight in nature, so you’ll have a hard job stopping it. And does the bull run in Pamplona end up with a bullfight and the bull being killed? I don’t know.

    I think we should celebrate these things without unnecessary cruelty, letting them run and gorge the occasional participant seems fine by me.

    It certainly beats celebrating the mass killing of infants of another tribe, which some people that I dare not name do. Also celebrating a man elevating into the sky and breaking the laws of gravity and aerodynamics is a strange practice.
    But people celebrate strange things. The world would be a joyless place without them.

  17. A bullfight isn’t a bull fighting another bull. It is a bull fighting a bullfighter (a man) with a big fucking sword. If the bullfighter wins he kills the bull. If the bull wins they kill the bull anyway. The word Matador literally means killer.

  18. I had an uncle that made the mistake of putting two bulls in the same pasture. They fought to the death of one of them.

  19. Paul, bulls fight in nature, so you’ll have a hard job stopping it. And does the bull run in Pamplona end up with a bullfight and the bull being killed? I don’t know.

    The eight bulls are run into the ring and then killed by toreadors in various ‘fights’ during the day.

    I think we should celebrate these things without unnecessary cruelty, letting them run and gorge the occasional participant seems fine by me

    I agree hence my comments about the run itself but the end result in the ring is inhumanly barbaric. I have no problems with the run itself and it is seen by many many natives of Pamplona as a rite of passage. In fact, I did it myself in 1992.

  20. //but the end result in the ring is inhumanly barbaric. I have no problems with the run itself and it is seen by many many natives of Pamplona as a rite of passage.//

    Oh, I didn’t know that. So let the bulls run and gorge a few local heroes. I hope people don’t think that would be unnecessarily cruel.

    The worst “celebrations” are those done out of malice, like the annual orgy of hatred and fear that one sees in your home town this time of year. Thankfully now much weakened, thanks to the good work of local Republicans and others.

  21. So let the bulls run and gorge a few local heroes. I hope people don’t think that would be unnecessarily cruel.

    Yes, by all means. I don’t think it cruel at all insofar as they’re not stabbed t death at the end of it.

    The worst “celebrations” are those done out of malice, like the annual orgy of hatred and fear that one sees in your home town this time of year.

    I came across this on Twitter. It really is unbelievable:

    https://twitter.com/Conor1971/status/1147536956798189570/photo/1

  22. Interesting post Paul thanks

    It’s not my cup of tea at all, I think it’s a cruel and outdated spectacle.

  23. https://nypost.com/2019/07/07/2-gored-in-spains-running-of-the-bulls-festival/

  24. It’s not my cup of tea at all, I think it’s a cruel and outdated spectacle.

    I understand Dave and absolutely agree with the ‘fights’ in the ring where the bulls are slaughtered but don’t have any problems with the run itself. The run element of the festival generally tends to be the one everyone zeroes in on but as I say above, the fiesta consists of many other factors.

    I’m surprised no one has picked up / commented on my deliberate mistake above.

  25. On Ernest Hemingway being French? I thought don’t rub it in to the poor boy! 🙂

  26. No Charles he was. If you take Pat’s barometer of nationality Me living in the Basque Country apparently makes me Spanish and Noel living in Germany makes him German.

    So…….

  27. I guess that makes James Joyce French as well LOL. Dubliners was a good read, but I’ll never forgive Joyce for Ulysses!

  28. Yeah, it would also make Behan French too.

    Ulysses is pretty complex stuff. I’ve tried it three or four times in my life but never conquered it.

  29. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one not to be able to crack through Joyce’s intellect. Deep stuff.

  30. hey just a reminder……

    7/7

    14 years ago today….. please remember and say a prayer for the lost.

  31. oh and Paul…….

    Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American journalist, novelist, short-story writer, and sportsman. July 2nd was the 58th anniversary of his death…..

    How dare you blemish him calling him French…..

    F**k the French 😉

  32. Touché 🙂

  33. Ulysses is tough to get through but it is child’s play compared to Finnegans Wake.

  34. Seamus.

    Ulysses is tough to get through but it is child’s play compared to Finnegans Wake.

    After reading through this thread, I was just going to make exactly the same comment.

  35. Paul McMahon

    I understand Dave and absolutely agree with the ‘fights’ in the ring where the bulls are slaughtered but don’t have any problems with the run itself. The run element of the festival generally tends to be the one everyone zeroes in on but as I say above, the fiesta consists of many other factors.

    I would imagine that the balls would not be very happy to be taking part in the bull run. I would assume it would be terrifying for them.

    I’m surprised no one has picked up / commented on my deliberate mistake above.

    the only mistake I spotted was you contradicted yourself wheather the bulls in the bull run are killed at the end of it.

  36. You contradicted yourself wheather the bulls in the bull run are killed at the end of it.

    ??

    As for the run itself, there’s a fair amount of macho bullshit surrounding it but for local Pamplonicas it’s considered a rite of passage. I have no objections to the run as it’s man on beast at level peggings but the ultimate end result is horrific […]

    I agree hence my comments about the run itself but the end result in the ring is inhumanly barbaric.

  37. Paul

    I agree hence my comments about the run itself but the end result in the ring is inhumanly barbaric. I have no problems with the run itself

    Yes, by all means. I don’t think it cruel at all insofar as they’re not stabbed t death at the end of it.

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding those two statements.

  38. I absolutely think that the killing of bulls in the name of ‘tradition’ is a barbaric, absolutely inhumane practice Dave.