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Spain fire festival

January 20, 2012
Every year, in a spectacular tradition dating back 500 years, the 700 male and female inhabitants collect piles of branches and gather to honour their patron saint of animals.The creatures are blessed by a priest with holy water, before the brave horsemen lead their equally courageous mounts around the village, leaping through bonfires as sparks fly in all directions.

The tradition, dating back to the 16th century, is said to purify and protect the animals of the remote village, 60 miles west of Madrid.As the riders jump across the flames, musicians fill the air with the sound of drums and Spanish bagpipes. The riding stops at 11.30pm, but the festivities continue until dawn, when the bonfires are converted into huge barbecues to cook a traditional feast of chorizo sausages and black pudding.

The festival starts on the eve of his saint’s day, which falls on January 17, and the villagers believe their mules, donkeys and horses are protected by St Anthony throughout the year because of the festival.

A woman rides a horse through bonfire
A man rides a horse through bonfire

A boy covers his face from the flames

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From → festival, fire, tradition

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