Tomorrow is the first official day of the summer in the northern hemisphere of our planet of suffering.
As you know, for humans everything is a reason for celebration, and when humans celebrate usually nonhumans suffer.
Humans have been celebrating Summer Solstice since pagan times, but it was christianized during the 5th century and named “Saint Joan’s Day” after Saint Joan the Baptist, who is believed to be born on the 24th of June, the day most nations celebrate the holiday.
Different nations celebrate it in different ways, each with its unique cultural feature. However all of them lit bonfires and many set off fireworks and have a festive corpse consumption around the fire.
In Spain, the mother lode of torturous festivals, several different interpretations of the holiday take place, all distinctly express humans’ dominance, from dominating the inanimate sun, to dominating sentient animals. The following are the worst three examples taken from the article about global festivals called Celebrating Suffering.
Festes de Sant Joan in Ciutadella De Menorca
Throughout history, summer solstice celebrations have been an important element of social, cultural and religious life in many Spanish cities and towns, especially those close to the sea. Originally a pagan ritual on the shortest night of the year, the holiday was christianized during the 5th century and named “Saint Joan’s Day” after Saint Joan the Baptist, who was born on the 24th of June.
Whereas in most places the element of fire remained one of the major attractions of the celebrations, in the city of Ciutadella on Menorca, in the Balearic islands, over 30,000 visitors come to see the purebred Menorcan stallions (the town’s pride and symbol) who were integrated into the festival, becoming the festival’s “protagonists” as hundreds of them are forced in many equestrian events.
The horses are brought from the countryside into town on the morning of June 23rd. They are washed and decorated early in the morning to prepare them for two extremely exhausting days of parades, races, dressage and gallop exhibitions in which the horses rear up on their two hind legs as long and as frequently as they are forced to. It is customary for young men to try and touch the horses’ hearts as they rear up, for good luck.
Later the riders leave town and head for the rural hermitage of San Joan de Missa, located eight kilometers from Ciutadella, where a mass prayer will be taken. The whole procession moves slowly through the narrow and crowded streets of Ciutadella, cheered on by the many onlookers along the way.
Even at night the horses don’t get any rest, but are forced to participate in Caragol of Santa Clara, which is another long journey, this time through the village’s houses, literally. The horses enter the houses of people for the riders to ask them to say a prayer for their safety during Jocs des Pla – the medieval games spectacle planned for the next day in which the horses will be further abused.
But before the horses’ abuse starts, a donkey must be abused first. At precisely 14:00 on June 23rd, the Fabioler (flute player) arrives on a donkey to the house of the Senior Rider and formally asks for permission to gather the riders and start a long parade of horsemen.
The poor donkey who will carry the Fabioler throughout the whole festival, is harassed from early morning as children come to “greet” him, mount him and take photos.
But the animal abuse starts even earlier. On the Sunday prior to Saint Joan’s Day, called the Diumenge des Be (Sunday of the Lamb), the festival committee visits 120 selected houses of the prominent humans of town such as the Mayor and Bishop, inviting them to the fiesta and partake of refreshments.
One of the committee members is the Homo des Be a man with red crosses on his forehead, dressed in sheep skins (made with the skins of two or three animals that have been cut and sewn according to his measures) carrying on his shoulders a one year old lamb which represents the living symbol of Saint Joan the Baptist.
The procession is closely followed by the townspeople who try to touch the lamb for luck and some even tear bits of wool to take home.
One week before Diumenge des Be, two lambs are picked from a group that has been carefully selected and cared for since earlier in the year, to be thoroughly washed and kept in a place where they won’t get dirty again, being fully watched and their food is controlled as well. The second lamb is a spare one in case the chosen lamb becomes ill.
In the night before Diumenge des Be, the chosen lamb is placed at display for the townspeople to visit until 4am in the morning. He is not fed (so he won’t defecate during the expedition) and kept awake and on his feet so he will be exhausted the next day.
About two hours before the 12 hours journey, the lamb is taken for decoration. The decorative elements are stitched to his wool as they can easily fall during the long hours walk between thousands of humans.
The act of decorating and all the more so the public baths have turned into festivals themselves as everyone of all ages participate.
Baño de Las Cabras
On the eve of San Joan about a dozen goats’ captors force about 300 goats on a hard and long journey from the mountains and canyons, down to the village’s shore where they force them into the cold water of the ocean. It is called Baño de Las Cabras and it is a ritual purification bath violently done in front of hundreds of excited humans.
Totally averse to water, the goats are terrified watching all their friends, one by one, forced into the water. They try to fight the humans who forcefully drag them into the water and dunk them in. Some vainly try to escape. Some scream for their lives, since as far as they know they are going to be drowned.
The goats go through this horror since their humans captors think it would help them come into estrus and get pregnant so more goats will be born into this life of misery.
The origin of the ritual dates back to pre-Hispanic times when the aboriginal Guanches inhabited the Canary Islands and believed that the sun casts a powerful magic in the summer solstice and so it is a time of renewal and fertility.
The ancient ritual had already shrunk to only a few, but in the early 80’s it was revived and fully institutionalized within the Fiestas de San Joan celebration.
Nowadays, it is a fun day for the whole family with children enjoying dunking young goats, small enough for them to force into the water, and women “proving” that they are good for the abuse just as much as men.
El Toro de Coria
The most famous and popular version of the festival of San Joan is held in the city Coria of the Caceres province in Extremadura region, with bulls as the abused protagonists. The festival which starts on June 22rd, lasts a week, and is of course declared as National Tourist Interest, partly because the Corians commemorate the vettones – the pre-Roman Celtic tribes who lived in Iberian Peninsula. The vettones worshiped the bull as a sacred animal, that’s why the Corians spend a week abusing them all day long in various ways.
In the first day of the festival about a hundred humans ride on horses to the countryside to bring 6 tamed bulls. These bulls will be used during the festival to herd each of the non-tamed bulls from the corral to the torture ring. It is a long and hard journey that includes steep ups and downs, bridge passing and the worst part – river crossing.
Every day, 2 torture sessions are held in a ring specially designed for bull abuse, one in the middle of the night, and the other in the evening (and in one “special” day another one at noon).
After the torturers have performed all the abuse variations they can come up with inside a ring, and the exhausted bull thinks that the torture is finally over, they go out to the streets to explore new versions of abuse so that not a single celebrator would miss the chance of kicking, slapping, stepping, screaming in the face of the totally panicked bull, clap and wave hands in his face, and of course pull his tail. Eleven bulls are put through this lynch mob all along the festival, none of them has a clue what the thousands of humans want from them.
After a prolonged abuse which can take hours, when the bull is completely exhausted and the humans finally decide he can’t be tortured anymore, he is murdered.
According to new regulations, it is required to tie the bulls with a rope and drag them to the slaughterhouse “for hygienic” murder, as the regulators call it, instead of the good old street kill.
Fortunately in this case, the desire of the locals to kill the bulls in the streets prevails and they unintentionally spare the bulls from the horrible transport to the slaughterhouse when they can barely stand. They murder the bulls by blowing their brains out with a shotgun in the middle of the street for the kids to learn the final lesson of how to treat a sentient being.
And all that is only the specific torture of only one holiday, in only one country. The rest of the daily torture in the rest of the world continues as usual of course.
While hundreds of animal activists would devote their summer to animal activism, literally sweating for the chance that a few more humans would consider going vegan, this is how millions of humans chose to spend theirs. That’s why we hope you will spend your summer trying to make it the last one.