Las Fiestas de San Fermín
also known as Sanfermines

Worksheet

In the northern Spanish city of Pamplona, there is a very famous festival that takes place each year from 6 to 14 July.  It is a celebration to honour the town's patron saint - San Fermín

The festival is called las Fiestas de San Fermín or Sanfermines.  The traditional colours to wear during the festival are red and white.   The most important piece of clothing is el pañuelo rojo - the red scarf that has become the emblem of the festival.

The festivities begin on 6 July at midday with the setting off of a firework from the town hall balcony.  This firework is called el chupinazo.  The red scarf is ceremoniously put on by everyone in the crowd.

Above: los 8 gigantes

Above: el Rey de Europa

Above: los 5 cabezudos.  The two on the right are the females.

Each day there are processions with giants and big-heads - gigantes y cabezudos.  They form an imaginary royal court called la Comparsa.   

There are eight giants - four pairs of a king and a queen.   They reach around four metres in height.

Each royal couple represents a continent - Europe, America, Asia and Africa. 

The giants that are used each year were made in 1860!  They are constructed from plaster and wood.  They are operated and carried by a person who is hidden underneath.   

Above: el Rey y la Reina de Europa

There are five big-heads - cabezudos.  These costumes are worn like massive head-shaped helmets.   The ones currently used were made in 1890.

Los cabezudos walk in front of the royal giants and they shake hands with the children in the crowd.

Their names are:  el Alcalde - the Mayor, el Concejal - the Councillor, la Abuela - the Grandmother,  el Japonés - the Japonese man  and la Japonesa - the Japanese woman.

  There are six fun characters called kilikis.  (Above).  They chase children in the crowd!  They each have a name:  Barbas, Patata, Verrugón, Coletas, Caravinagre and Napoleón.

There are six characters called zaldikos. This word means 'little horses' in the euskera language of northern Spain.  They are dressed in a costume that is half man - half horse.  This makes them look like they are riding on horseback.  They too chase the children in the crowd! 

The six zaldikos don't have individual names.

The children must be really excited during this festival as there is always a kiliki or zaldiko waiting to chase them!  

Although the daily processions of gigantes y cabezudos are lively and exciting, nothing could be more lively than the other famous part of the San Fermín festival.  That is to say - the daily running of the bulls - el encierro.

Although it might seem scary to be chased by un kiliki or un zaldiko - how about being chased by a group of charging bulls?

At 8 o' clock each morning, a rocket is fired and bulls - los toros - are released to run wild along a prepared route.  People show how brave they are by running in front of the charging bulls.   The running lasts usually between two and three minutes.  Many people have been injured and even killed. 

¡Socorro!
 

The 875 metre route that the bulls are forced to follow leads them to the town's bullfighting arena where they will be involved in the bullfights later in the day.

At midnight, on 14 July, the festival formally ends at the same place where it began - in front of the town hall - el ayuntamiento.   During the closing ceremony the crowds sing a song of farewell to the festival followed by a firework display.  The song is called Pobre de Mí - Poor Me. 

People hold a lighted candle as they sing:
Pobre de mí, pobre de mí, que se han acabado las fiestas de San Fermín.
Poor me, poor me, for the Saint Fermin festivities have ended.

The red neck scarves are finally taken off as a symbolic end to the festival but already everyone is looking forward to next year's event!

The people of Pamplona certainly have lots of energy!

 Site updated:  1 December 2020    
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