Jumping Through Fire Is a New Year Purity Ritual for Spanish Horses

After a break due to COVID-19, Spanish horses continue their new year purification ritual of jumping through bonfires.

Spain has a centuries-long tradition called Las Luminarias, where horses jump through bonfires in a purification ceremony. 

Because of COVID-19, the annual ceremony was put on hold.

But the long-awaited ceremony took place this past weekend, were about 100 horses participated in the ritual. 

Traditionally, this celebration takes place on the night of Jan. 16 in San Bartolome de Pinares, which is the eve of Saint Anthony's Day.

St. Anthony is Spain's patron saint of animals.

Despite the tradition it holds and that no harm comes to the horses participating, over the years animal rights groups have argued the ceremony could be dangerous to the animals. 

A local told Reuters the animals were not harmed since priests bless them beforehand, and current organizers say the horses were not harmed because riders take precautions like cutting the horse’s hair to avoid burns.

Some residents continue to look forward to the night, regarding it as, “magical,” according to Reuters.

"For me it is one of the most special days of the year, we have been living it since we were little, look at the tears that come to my eyes,” rider Alberto Martin told Reuters.

Related Stories