Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Monday, January 17, 2011

Spanish Tradition Under Threat by Activists

This sounds awful. Go to AFP for the full story....
Every year on the night of January 16, the eve of Saint Anthony's day, the patron saint of animals, the paved streets of the small town of 600 people are transformed into a sort of racetrack in which the fences are burning logs.

"It's a festival in which the horses are sanctified by the flames, they are liberated from all their ills," said Quique, 30, who takes part in the festival every year.

Tree branches for the fires are collected for weeks ahead of the festival. The flames are regularly doused with water to produce columns of smoke intended to purify the animals.

The tradition is under threat from animal rights groups, who say the horses suffer as they leap over the flames.

But the residents of San Bartolome de Pinares fiercely defend the festival, arguing that if the horses were really suffering they would not go near the flames.

"We don't force them," Quique said.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Ana,

Interesting debates arise where cultural traditions clash with considerations relating to animal welfare.

There are not necessarily any inherent problems in involving animals as a part of traditional festivals and events per se. That said, it is important not to allow cultural considerations to become a mere excuse for animal rights abuses - the Japanese whaling industry being a case in point.

In the case of the festival mentioned here, this doesn't sound like much fun for the horses - although it does sound as though they go to some lengths to ensure that the animals do not suffer serious harm during these proceedings. I wonder how many accidents there have been over the years.