In Murcia, a city in south-eastern Spain, the end of Easter is celebrated in style with the parades of the Burial of the Sardine, a pagan festival dating back to 1851. Theories abound over the origin of the festival, but the most common belief is that its origins lay in the minds of a group of local students that wanted to imitate masquerades seen in Madrid. As it goes, the students dreamt up a procession presided over by a sardine, as a symbol of fasting and abstinence during Lent, followed by the public burning of the sardine, celebrating the end of Lent’s prohibitions.
Today the festival attracts almost one million people to a multi day party filling the streets of the Murcian capital with batucadas and charangas, sardineros, hachoneros, and marching bands. The students original parade of the Burial of the Sardine still closes the festivities, but through a tradition of outdoing itself every year has become almost outrageously spectacular.
This year the parade featured everything from mythological beings, an almost 10 meter tall astronaut, giant inflatable dragons, and, of course, a float featuring the sardine in its last hours of life. Following the sardine are 23 more floats, each dedicated to the gods of Olympus, and together they throw over a million toys to ecstatic crowds that jump and scramble to fill their bags of goods.
After the parade, at about one in the morning, the burning of the Sardine gives everyon one final hurrah before the crowds disperse for another year. Accordingly, at the end of the Gran Via next to the Old Bridge, with fireworks exploding overhead, the Sardineros of Murcia can be found dancing around a 30ft sardine engulfed in flames.
If you want to know more about the Burial of the Sardine, do not hesitate to visit its website where you will get all the information about the history, protagonists and activities of this spectacular celebration. I just have to thank Daniel Robles of Amyca, the City of Murcia, Tourism of Murcia and the Association Sardinera of Murcia for giving us the opportunity to live this holiday and congratulations for your excellent work in promoting the Region of Murcia.