We assume you all know the San Fermín celebrations in Pamplona (Navarra), northern Spain, right? They are 9 days of celebrations whose main claim is in the running of bulls through the city streets (encierros). These festivities begin with the loud bang (chupinazo) and end with the song “Pobre de mi…” (Poor me…). Do you want to learn more about it?
The celebration of San Fermin, or Sanfermines, dates back to the Middle Ages, and began as a party dedicated exclusively to men. Over the years celebrations commemoran to San Fermin (that’s the name of the saint) have evolved, and today is one of the most famous festivals in the world. Great blame for this lies with the Nobel Prize Ernest Hemingway: This American writer gave a huge spread to the San Fermin after live them in person … that’s why so many American people come to Pamplona!
THE CHUPINAZO AND THE “POBRE DE MI…”
If you want to live this celebration in real life, you will need to know these two key points: the beginning and the end. The chupinazo is a rocket that is pulled from the balcony of the City Hall of Pamplona, with thousands of spectators waiting in the square, dressed-up in white and red. This rocket, despite being small, causes a roar of about 133 decibels … comparable to the takeoff of a plane! And is the official time when the San Fermin festival is inaugurated. The selected speaker gives a speech that should end by saying .. “Pamplonesas, pamploneses, Gora San Fermin!”.
The counterpoint is the “Pobre de mi …“ song, which is a song that everyone sings the last day of the party. It is sad farewell that ends the 9 days of celebrations.
San Fermín is a curious celebration, for reasons such as these:
- It began in the Fourteenth Century, when men moved the bulls (those bulls used in bullfighting) from the countryside to town. In this journey, people went back and sides, and not running before them. Who would have thought that running ahead was to become a well-known tradition?
- People who will run the confinements sing a little song to the figure of San Fermin 3 times: 5, 3 and 1 minute before 8.00 am, when the encierro begins. They intended to seek protection to the saint with these words: “A San Fermín pedimos, por ser nuestro patrón, nos guíe en el encierro, dándonos su bendición”.
- There’s a prize for the best guiri *! There are a huge number of foreigners who come to the party, so since 1996 there is a “Guiri Day”, the day on which they chose the foreigner who lives the parties with more emotion… it is a great idea!
- Do you know that the population of the city of Pamplona increases from 190,000 inhabitants to 2,800,00 ?? Amazing! Where is these people staying? You’ll have to find out.
*Giri is the way the Spaniards call foreigners, especially the Anglo-Saxon tourists … but no offense! It is an affectionate adjetive for us 😉
In addition to the bulls and bullfighting, which is a quite controversial topic today, you can enjoy many other activities, most of them musical. So we recommend to all our students at INMSOL to experience and visit Pamplona in San Fermin … Viva San Fermin, Gora San Fermin!