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Bous a la Mar: The Spanish Festival of Chasing Bulls to The Sea

All throughout the year, but particularly during local festivals, a number of bull-related sports and events take place all over Spain. While the festivities vary, the bull-related events most invariably involve thrill seekers throwing themselves in front of a herd of bulls while the agitated animals chase them through the streets. The most famous of these events is the “Running of the Bulls” that takes place during the festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. In the seaside town of Denia in the province of Alicante, 600 km south of Pamplona, a different type of bull running takes place — one that has more to do with swimming than fighting. It is called Bous a la Mar — literally, “bulls to the sea”.

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The ceremony begins with bulls chasing young boys down the Calle Marques de Campo, the town's main boulevard, down to the specially designed arena in the port. Three sides of the square arena are closed off with iron bars just wide enough for humans to slide in and out of the arena should the bull get too close. The fourth side opens out into the harbor, with an approximately one-meter drop between the sanded arena floor and the water.

One by one, the bulls are released into the arena, and willing participants then tease the bulls and try to get them into the water. The one who succeeds in making the bull fall into the water is considered the winner.

Bous a la Mar has been held annually since at least 1926 as part of the festival of Santisima Sangre, or "holy blood," which commemorates a monk named Pedro Esteve who is said to have saved the town from plague in 1633. The festival takes place during the second week of July, around the same time San Fermin takes place.

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Sources: Spanish Fiesta / Spiegel

3 comments:

  1. It is cruel and no fun. The bull does not enjoy it!

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  2. I'm not a fan of this kind of event. But I take issue with the comments above. I don't see any indication that it is cruel, and many participants and spectators will disagree with the statement that it is no fun. I find usually that this type of comment is made by people who proclaim to love animals and at the same time, are generally OK with abortion of humans. I have no idea if that's the case here. I am saying that is my overwhelming experience with such comments.

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  3. This kind of bullfight is much more agreeable, than the original one. Both party have the chance to win. It is true, that humans outnumber the bull, but more vulnerable. To cool down in the sea, is a very good ending. Anonymus asked the bull anyway, that he does not enjoy it?

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