Monday, July 13, 2009

That's Some Bull

*Looks like fun to you? You're probably drunk. Or Spanish. Or both.*

Europeans are known to have some strange traditions; traditions such as stuffing live weasels in your trousers or chasing a wheel of cheese down a hill. But perhaps the strangest to me is the festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain. Better known for the famous running of the bulls, the festival runs from July 7th through July 14th, which would be tomorrow.

The running of the bulls is exactly what it sounds like. At one end of the city, they let loose a bunch of bulls into the very narrow medieval street. At the other end is a bullfighting ring. The bulls run from one end to the other. People stand in the streets until the bulls come, and then they run. Usually, people are gored and sometimes someone meets an untimely death.

One of this years victims was Daniel Romero, 27 (hey, I’m 27!) who was on vacation with his parents and girlfriend, who were on hand to identify his gored remains.

My idea of vacation? Frozen drinks with tiny umbrellas.

Another guy, a 61-year-old American man, is in intensive care with internal bleeding in his lungs.

Which lead me to wonder, “Why?” Not “Why” as in “Why would you spend your vacation getting whacked over and over again in the chest by a tank-like mammal with horns?” but “Why would you start a tradition like this in the first place?”

Usually when you see a weird European tradition like this you would expect that there’s some story about how it all started. The kind of story that says, “okay, well, I’m not going to say it makes sense but at least I can understand it.”

I looked up the running of the bulls. I’m not able to find a good reason why people would stand in front of a bunch of charging bulls in a narrow, enclosed medieval street. The closest I could come was the false claim that Saint Fermin died while being dragged through the streets of Pamplona behind bulls. Except Saint Fermin was actually beheaded in France and his mentor, who really was martyred by being dragged behind bulls, also died in France.

Basically, the closest thing to a reason is really more of an excuse made up after the fact.

So yeah, I don’t know. Figure that shit out. All I know is, it makes setting off fireworks seem a lot less dangerous.

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