Thousands of Sheep Parade Through Streets of Spain as They Migrate South for Winter
The tradition dates back to the 15th century.
Thousands of sheep paraded through the Spanish capital as they migrated from north to south in preparation for the change in temperature.
Much like birds, the sheep in Spain are heading south for warmer climates.
The annual trip is called "La Fiesta de la Trashumancia" which translates to "the festival of the transhumance." It began 600 years ago after the Spanish monarchy gave shepherds the right to transport their livestock, for a fee, on main roads as urban cities were developing.
In 1994, the city resurrected the centuries-old celebration, which has taken place every year since in late October. It is designed to recognize and mark the tradition of livestock migration.
The sheep and wool industry are major contributors to the history of Spain and its economy. The importance of the animal is celebrated by Spaniards as they revel in the annual march through the capital.
While the celebration is rooted in ancient ideas, the juxtaposition of the old world practice in front of modern buildings and stores brings history to life for new generations.
As the sheep move along through the city, Madrid citizens sing and dance in colorful attire for the lively event. The dancers wear wooden shoes paying homage to those who wore them as they navigated the muddy fields.
Once the sheep leave the city, they are transported by truck to the warmer and greener pastors of the south and not on foot like their ancestors of the 15th century.
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