Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Did Saint Fermin really run with the bulls?

From: Spero News

Forgive me today, with the cold chilly winter weather beating at my window, to think of summer in Spain. Often when those two words, "Spain" and "summer" are mentioned, people respond with phrases that reflect visions of sangria, flamenco and the running of the bulls in Pamplona during the San Fermin festivities.

It seems everybody has images of this hedonistic orgy popularized by Hemingway - and who basically ruined the festival, such so that now the aficionados are in the minority.

It wasn't always that way, but nowadays, during the first week of July, Pamplona's streets are thronged with drunken Euro-Rail travellers urinating in the streets, as if in some mad Bobby Kennedy ritual - should I mention the Spanish ex-pat legend that has it that the younger Kennedy is said to have been picked up by local police during a wild night out, to only be set free after the US embassy stepped in? Or was it the legendary JFK? Depends upon who is telling the story.

The fact is that now running with the bulls is quite dangerous - the danger not coming from the bulls, but instead from drunken foreigners who enter the street to run braved by alcohol after sleepless nights of partying.

The Associated Press once quoted me in a story that ran in the US on "The Running of the Bulls," and for which I was asked, "Would you run in Pamplona?" To which I responded, "No, there are too many drunks and piss in the street."

But I digress.

Nobody seems to ask, who was Saint Fermin - nor for that matter what is his connection to the running of the bulls - and even more importantly, "Is this a religious celebration?"

Could it be that he was named a saint because he ran with the bulls better than anybody else?

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