July festivals (part 1)
There’s one week left in June, and the projected warmer month of July will be upon us, so we should take a quick look at some of the July festivals that one expect to encounter during one’s holiday trips, or maybe which one would like to particularly visit during this month.
One of the most well-known and rather dangerous festivals in Europe, having been made so well-known and very much romanticized by Ernest Hemingway, this Pamplona festival is a celebration of pure unbridled Spanish passion and sheer raw power.
The festival is dedicated to the town’s patron saint – San Fermin – and it implies hundreds of ‘runner’s sprinting along 800m of track ahead of six raging bulls.
The tradition began when some individuals lacking a sense of self-preservation started running alongside the bulls as they were herded to Plaza de Toros for the bull fight.
The bulls charge at up to 55km per hour, so it’s impossible to outrun them for the entire course, most lucky runners jumping out of the way once the bulls catch up to them. On the other hand there are quite a few places along the 3-minute-long run which can pose major threats, just as bottlenecks and places where there are only doorways to act as potential refuge.
Casualties aside – and there will be some – the running only kicks off the day of festivities, and they don’t end till the sangria supply is exhausted late into the night or early into the next morning.
Wife-Carrying World Championships – Sonkajarvi, Finland
This is a weird and humorous little festival with roots in a less than humorous custom of pillaging neighboring village for womenfolk.
Nowadays you can only pillage your own ‘wife’, over a distance of 253.5m, in which the constants will have to tackle sand, grass and gravel surfaces, two dry obstacles and a 1m-deep water section. The carriers are allowed to wear a belt and will also be penalized if they drop their load.
The ‘wives’ must be age over 17 and weigh more than 49kg.